By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– People who lawfully possess guns will still be able to carry them onto city property in North Liberty without violating any city laws.
A resolution to prohibit firearms on city-owned property came before the North Liberty City Council on May 28, brought by request from council member Coleen Chipman. After moderate discussion, Chipman’s motion to disallow weapons on city-owned property failed 2-3, with Chipman and council member Gerry Kuhl voting in favor.
Chipman said she wanted the council to reconsider the city’s firearms rule because there is already so much violence in the nation, and she feels it is time for the North Liberty City Council to take a formal stance against it.
“I think it is necessary we take a stand to say no, we don’t want guns in our parks. There is no reason to bring a gun to the council chamber or to city hall. We have plenty of restrictions placed upon citizens, such as not smoking (in public places), if it’s harmful to someone. I don’t think this is unreasonable,” Chipman argued.
But fellow council member Brian Wayson said changing the city’s policies would be ineffective in preventing violence anyway.
“An individual carrying weapons without a permit would be committing a crime already. This policy would only affect people who have a permit and are otherwise legally able to carry weapons as laid out by the legislature,” Wayson said. “So now we (would be) criminalizing the lawful act of a law abiding citizen. I know the stated goal was to protect the health and safety of our citizens, but there is no mechanism to enforce it.”
In fact, Wayson added, taking away the right to carry guns from law-abiding citizens limits their means of personal protection if a violent incident does occur.
“If we remove the ability of individual to protect themselves in this situation, it does not help secure the safety of our citizens,” said Wayson. “In the (U.S.) Constitution, and the Iowa Constitution, the right of citizens is to defend life and liberty, and I think this flies in the face of it.”
Council member Chris Hoffman felt that trying to enforce the rule would be impractical.
“If you want to do something bad with a gun, you will. I recognize that laws are made out of fear, mostly, and this is a possibility of one of those. The reality of it being helpful versus the burden of enforcement seems to be unbalanced,” Hoffman said.
Chipman contended her intent was not born of fear, and in fact supported people’s constitutional rights to be free of fear.
“(The law) will protect your right to carry a gun, but I will protect my right not to have to worry about having a shooting. This isn’t about fear at all,” she said. “It is a reality in our lives, and unless we are willing to take a stand to not have guns on city property then I think we are not doing our duty to protect the citizens of North Liberty.”
Councilor Terry Donahue said he agreed with most of Wayson’s points against changing city policy, while council member Gerry Kuhl refrained from comment.
Chipman did likewise after making her point clear.
“I have heard no reason why it is a good idea to bring guns into council chambers,” she said. “No more comment.”