116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The outcome may have been as certain as a sharpshooter's aim, but gun-rights activists Tuesday night still set their sights on a gun ban on city of Iowa City-owned property.
Nine people spoke at a City Council meeting, all against the proposal, although only two of them were from Iowa City.
The council then shot down those objections and voted 7-0 to approve a resolution that prohibits firearms and other dangerous weapons from city buildings, grounds, buses, parks and areas designated as a farmers market.
“I think it sends a message that guns do not belong in public buildings,” council member Connie Champion said.
Communities statewide have debated gun bans on public property since a change in state law that took effect Jan. 1 that eases restrictions on the issuance of gun permits and removed a sheriff's ability to require guns to be concealed.
Washington County and the cities of Marion and Kalona backed away from proposed gun bans in the face of public opposition.
The Iowa City Public Library recently banned guns, and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors is set to do the same at a meeting Thursday.
The meeting remained mostly civil, although after the vote David Telliho of Kalona said some council members had “made yourselves targets tonight.” That prompted council member Ross Wilburn to order him to leave or be removed from council chambers, and Telliho left without further disruption.
The main arguments of the gun-rights activists were that a ban isn't going to stop someone intent on causing harm, people have a right to carry a gun and local governments cannot pre-empt state law.
“When I leave Cedar Rapids to come to Iowa City to shop, I expect to have the same rights here that I have there,” said David Hughes, who lives on Fourth Avenue Southwest in Cedar Rapids.
Several council members said they had experience with guns and acknowledged the resolution would do little to stop someone from causing harm.
“What we are trying to say, I think, is on public property we expect civil discourse in a way that people don't necessarily feel threatened,” council member Regenia Bailey said.
Also, the Iowa Attorney General's Office has said that local governments have the power to prohibit weapons on their properties.
Some of the speakers said they expected a legal challenge to the local measures like Iowa City's.
Exceptions to the resolution will be granted to sworn peace officers, people with written permission from the police chief and people who hold a professional permit to carry, like state-licensed private investigators and security officers. Unloaded guns that are in a fastened case will be allowed in vehicles in city parking lots and ramps.
Firearms that shoot blanks will be allowed, with permission, in city cemeteries for military funerals.
Council members stressed it affects only city-owned property.
Violators could be charged with trespassing.
One speaker, Scott Clark of Wellman, suggested he would not follow any local bans, saying he would continue to carry his gun where allowed by state law.
“The only thing you are doing is preventing law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves,” he said.