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Iowa City Council to vote on lifting weapons ban

New state law prohibits local laws regulating firearms

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

IOWA CITY — Firearms soon could be permitted inside city of Iowa City-owned properties for the first in nearly a decade.

Last month, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed House File 2502, which prevents cities and counties from enacting any ordinances regulating the possession of lawfully possessed firearms. Under the amended Iowa Code, municipalities could only prohibit firearms from their buildings if they “both screen all those who enter the buildings for weapons and provide armed security personnel in each such building,” according to a memo from Assistant Iowa City Attorney Eric Goers.

The new law comes into conflict with an Iowa City resolution passed in February 2011 prohibiting weapons in all city buildings and buses. With the change to the Iowa Code taking effect July 1, Iowa City now is forced to address its own resolution, and the City Council is scheduled to discuss rescinding the resolution at its meeting today.

“In order the avoid costly litigation and payment of attorney fees and costs, the city should rescind the earlier resolution,” Goers wrote in his memo.

City Manager Geoff Fruin said the previous resolution covered all city-owned properties, and the new state law will affect those facilities. While the law provides cities with some options, Fruin said those have not been explored yet.

“We have not considered screening with armed security, which is the allowance allowed by the new legislation,” he said. “The City Council will have an opportunity to discuss that option at the meeting.”

Goers’ memo notes the city still could use armed security for “singular events that warrant that level of security, but would not want to do so for every building all the time.”

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The city of Cedar Rapids, which allows anyone — except for city employees — to carry weapons on city property, will not be affected by the change, city spokeswoman Maria Johnson told The Gazette.

“Since this is the policy/practice, we will not need to take any action related to the new bill passed,” Johnson said in an email.

Fruin said he believes decisions on how to manage city-owned properties should be left to the elected officials in those communities.

“It is unfortunate that we are left with a choice of employing armed security at our entrances or allowing firearms in a recreation center, library or other city facility,” he said. “Neither solution is desired by our community, and yet we have no ability to seek another alternative.”

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

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