Township board revises weapons ban

FLINT TWP. — In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, the township board interest in banning weapons from its meeting room took on a new sense of urgency.

But it is bound by the state opencarry law which permits gun possession in some public places.

A Code of Conduct approved earlier this month that included a ban against weapons at township meetings, came back for revision at the Dec. 17 meeting, after drawing heat from a gun rights advocate.

The weapons rule – one of 14 in the Code of Conduct now posted on the meeting room wall – states that “No one may carry a weapon into the meeting room except for law enforcement officers.”

Apparently the measure drew protest from a representative of Michigan Open Carry Inc., a pro-guns group.

Kasle, who fought at the previous meeting to keep strict prohibitive language in the weapons rule, was vocal about bowing to pressure.

“I am not about to vote for a provision that allows a .22-caliber rifle that was used to kill (in Connecticut) 28 people (to be brought) in this room,’’ he said.

“I would also like to consult with our attorney to see what can be done to stop guns – or at least some guns – from entering this meeting room.”

“I think it is disgusting that we bend over to some so-called director of research for Michigan Open Carry Inc. who sends us an e-mail.”

Kasle’s motion to postpone the revision pending further legal research was defeated 4-3 with trustees George Menoutes and Belenda Parker voting yes with him.

Kasle, Parker and Menoutes also voted against the 4-3 decision approving a revision to add the words “unless authorized by state law.”

Supervisor Karyn Miller said the revision was needed to comply with state law and avoid a lawsuit.

“I have the same concerns that you do but if state law allows it …”, she said. “If everyone comes in here bearing arms, we don’t have a choice.”

She also cited an example brought to the board’s attention of an ordinance banning CCW holders from public property in Ferndale that was voided by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Kasle argued that Flint Township’s ban was a rule not an ordinance and said he could not see any harm in leaving it as stated, even if it is unenforceable,

He also said the board would be better off with no weapons rule than the one proposed.

“The board is putting its foot in its mouth by proposing a rule that isn’t effective to do what we want it to do,’’ he said.

The board action responded to a communication from Brian Jeffs, director of research for Michigan Open Carry Inc. which is posted on that organization’s website as an example of how to contact a municipality to inform them that their gun ban is unlawful

It is addressed to Miller and states in part:.

“… I want to inform you that Flint Township has enacted a unlawful firearm ban at public meetings and in public buildings, including the police department building lobby. This firearm ban from township meetings/buildings is in violation of Michigan law MCL 123.1102 which prohibits all local units of government from enforcing ANY firearm law, rules or restrictions stricter than those of the state.”

It cites more legal examples then asks that the township “rescind this unlawful firearm ban and remove any signage or notice that prohibits firearms from all public places.” He requested a response in seven business days.

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