A Pacific resident says a proposed ordinance making it illegal to carry a lethal weapon in the city was not well thought-out.
The city proposed a new ordinance relating to the open carry of weapons readily capable of lethal use, but pulled it from the May 21 agenda of the board of aldermen.
The proposed law would have made it illegal to carry a knife, firearm, blackjack or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use within the city limits.
Stephen Flannery III, who introduced himself as a hunter and former member of the military, spoke against the bill. Flannery also is president of the Pacific Park Board, but spoke as a citizen on the weapons issue.
“I know you’ve removed this from the agenda, but after seeing it, I want to make my points,” he said.
Flannery said his concern with the bill is mainly the first paragraph, which said a person commits an offense if he carries a concealed weapons on his person, be it a knife or firearm.
“The state has a carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) permit for firearms. I have a CCW permit,” he said. “Nowhere in this bill does it mention conceal carry permit. By this ordinance, if I have a weapon I’m violating a city ordinance.”
Guns are not the only portion of the bill that he was critical of.
“I carry a little knife that I’ve had since I was a little boy,” Flannery said. “The ordinance does not mention the size of knife.”
Flannery took from his pocket a small pocketknife which he held up for aldermen to see.
“Push come to save and I had to, this could be used in a lethal situation,” he said. “I hate to think that my grandfather’s knife in my pocket is a violation.”
The language in the bill that says, “readily capable of lethal use,” opens a big door between Second Amendment rights, he added.
Flannery said he has other concerns about the language of the proposed law.
“Frankly, I have seen someone openly carry a weapon into an establishment,” he said. “It’s not illegal to do it. The Second Amendment allows people to bear arms.”
Flannery also said he realizes that officials must have considered some of his same concerns or the bill would not have been removed from the agenda, but he felt compelled to speak in case there was an intention to rework the proposed ordinance.
“If I we’re going to tweak this I hope we will do something with more common sense,” he said.
Police Chief Matt Mansell, who asked for an ordinance making it illegal to openly carry a loaded firearm within the city limits, said the bill went far beyond what he had requested.
“The proposed ordinance was way out there,” Mansell said.
“One individual in Pacific likes to walk into businesses wearing a gun,” he said. “I’m totally for the Second Amendment, but if a person feels he needs to carry a gun I’d rather see him get a CCW permit and put it under his jacket.”
It is now legal in Missouri to openly wear or carry a loaded gun, but some municipalities have outlawed the practice, which is what Mansell said he asked for.
Kristen Erickson, with the law firm of Cunningham, Vogel and Rost, which represents the city, prepared the bill.
In a memorandum to Mansell and City Administrator Harold Selby, Erickson said the proposed law was based on language from similar ordinances in cities located in Jefferson and St. Charles counties.
She also noted the city could only regulate loaded guns and other lethal weapons.
“The city may not regulate, and people may continue to carry, unloaded firearms,” the memo said.
Mayor Herb Adams later told The Missourian that he did not plan to bring the bill back.
“My personal hope is that it dies for now,” Adams said. “There is a national debate in progress on the topic of guns and gun use and I’d like to see that play out more before we start making a law.”
The proposed ordinance, if it had passed, also made it illegal to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied schoolhouse or along a public highway.
Additionally, the bill made it illegal to “openly” carry a loaded weapon within the city limits.
The ban would not apply to peace officers, keepers of prisons, members of the Armed Forces or corporate security officers.
Coroners, prosecuting attorneys, members of a fire department and licensed armed security officers (while in uniform) also would be exempt.
Unless one of the aldermen makes a formal request to bring the bill, or some version of it, back to the full board, Adams said the idea is dead for now.
Mansell said the state of Missouri is currently working on a bill that would make it illegal to openly carry a loaded gun. If the bill is signed by the governor, Mansell said he will not ask for a local ordinance.