Government

Reluctant Iowa City Council lifts gun ban to comply with new law

City Hall is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
City Hall is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Citing the city’s vulnerability to costly lawsuits and legal fees, the Iowa City Council on Tuesday reluctantly lifted a weapons ban on municipal properties.

“I’m going to vote for this but it’s with a great, heavy heart,” said Mayor Bruce Teague. “I hate that this is before us tonight.”

A February 2011 resolution had prohibited weapons in city buildings and on city buses. However, Gov. Kim Reynolds last month signed House File 2502, which prevents cities from regulating the possession of lawfully carried firearms.

The only exception to the law is if cities provide screening devices and an armed guard at buildings where weapons remained banned.

Some council members questioned whether they had to lift the ban and could ignore the new law. City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said that would expose the city to lawsuits it likely would lose, as well as paying legal fees to a litigant.

“I’m very concerned about that liability and I think it would be significant,” said City Council member Laura Bergus.

Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih and council member Janice Weiner both voted against lifting the weapons ban.

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“It’s a horrible law,” Weiner said. “It doesn’t make us safer. It doesn’t make our children safer.”

Dilkes said city staff would address how to deal with lifting the weapons ban, noting that police officers could still ask to see someone’s permit to carry a weapon.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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