A Mitchell citizen says guns should be allowed on more city facilities. Officials are sorting through the ordinance
“We had a concerned citizen address an issue that we were violating the Constitution as to where we allow guns in city buildings,” Mayor Bob Everson said.
A citizen’s concern surrounding Mitchell’s firearm policy has prompted the Mitchell City Council to consider tweaking an ordinance to limit the power to regulate the sale and transportation of firearms.
Another concern from the citizen, who Mayor Bob Everson said is alleging the city's firearm policy is “violating the Constitution," centers around the city facilities where guns are not permitted to be carried.
“We had a concerned citizen address an issue that we were violating the Constitution as to where we allow guns in city buildings,” Everson said. “In doing research, the citizen was technically correct on some areas where guns aren’t allowed.”
The proposed changes to the city's firearm policy are also a response to a recently enacted state law that limited a municipality’s power to regulate guns, including the sale and transportation of firearms. Among the city facilities that could be affected by the state law are the James Valley Community Center and Palace Transit buses, which the city's current policy does not allow guns at. However, Everson said the James Valley Community Center and Palace Transit buses are "gray areas" that he's focusing on before changing the policy to allow guns inside the respective facilities.
While the Mitchell Recreation Center is one of the city facilities that the concerned citizen is requesting the city to allow guns at, City Attorney Justin Johnson said the Attorney General’s office informed him the city may keep its policy that prohibits firearms at the Rec Center in place due to the close proximity of an elementary school that’s attached to the building.
Considering students at Gertie Belle Rogers utilize one of the Rec Center’s gyms for physical education, Johnson said it would be “next to impossible” for an individual carrying a firearm into the Rec Center to not be in violation of a state statute that prohibits guns on school grounds.
“Due to the Rec Center being a co-mingled facility with the school, they are allowing us to keep that policy in place,” Johnson said during Monday’s council meeting. “The Rec Center is not only used by the school, it’s essentially surrounded by school as well.”
Johnson said the proposed changes to the ordinance will align with a recently enacted state law that was passed by the Legislature this year.
“The Legislature passed a new law this year that limits a city’s ability to place restrictions or implement restrictions on citizens in relation to firearms by emergency powers,” Johnson said.
Under the current ordinance, the city has the power to “suspend or limit the sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustible products and require the closing of those businesses or parts of businesses insofar as the sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation of these items are concerned.” To align with the recently enacted state law, the city is proposing to scrap firearms from the emergency powers, which would eliminate the city’s ability to suspend or limit the sale, distribution and transportation of firearms.
The council unanimously approved the first reading of the proposed change to the city’s firearm policy during Monday’s meeting. If the council approves the second reading at its next meeting, it will take effect.