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City council discusses gun laws

IL Staff
October 12, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

On Oct. 24, the Hammond City Council will discuss ordinances introduced by Councilwoman Kim Poland that would repeal local gun laws in order to align with the new state laws.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll make the right choice this time,” Poland told Indiana Lawyer. “I would’ve thought that the first time around, this would’ve been a slam-dunk.”

At the Aug. 22 Hammond City Council meeting, Poland introduced a motion to repeal Hammond ordinance Chapter 132, Section 132.073, which bars guns in civil city public buildings. She said city attorney Kristina Kantar – who answers to the mayor – asked her to introduce the motion so the city would be compliant with state law. But Mayor Thomas McDermott expressed his opposition to repealing local laws.

McDermott, facing the council, said: “I can tell you I have every intention (of) not signing this ordinance if we pass it. I don’t think it’s a good policy to set, and if it’s state law, then let’s let our legislators explain it, why they think it’s safe for us to carry weapons in city buildings.”

Zionsville attorney Guy Relford filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to align with state laws. The class-action suit, Samuel G. Dykstra and Michelle L. Bahus, et al. v. City of Hammond, No. 45D11-1108-PL-00086, seeks relief for a grandmother, a college student, and all people “adversely affected” by Hammond’s local gun ordinances.

“I haven’t just run off and sued any municipality that appears to be lagging behind,” he said. But he said that McDermott’s “open defiance” of the state law is what motivated him to file suit.

Relford also filed a lawsuit in Evansville on behalf of a man whom police removed from a city zoo after he refused to conceal his handgun.

In Benjamin A. Magenheimer v. the City of Evansville, et al., No. 82C01-1109-PL-476, Benjamin Magenheimer claims that on Sept. 10, four city police officers forcibly removed him from Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden when he refused to conceal his handgun.

Relford said that police later claimed Magenheimer caused a scene after being asked to conceal his weapon, but that it’s clear that police violated state law by telling him to conceal his gun. After finding an item in the city’s municipal code that prohibits people from carrying firearms in city parks, Relford amended the original complaint to include a direct challenge to Evansville Municipal Code Section 2.45.070(C)(18).

Relford said that he knows some communities have worked quickly to change their local laws, but he called the incident in Evansville “egregious,” which he said sets it apart from other innocent violations of state law that may naturally occur as a result of outdated local ordinances.•
 

Rehearing "2 cities face gun-compliance lawsuits" IL Sept. 28-Oct. 11, 2011

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