Open Carry

It may soon be illegal to openly carry firearms in the city of Washington.

Police Chief Ken Hahn asked city council members Monday night to consider an ordinance that would prohibit people from openly carrying a weapon in the city.

The council discussed the issue at its administration/operations committee meeting.

City Counselor Mark Piontek is drafting an ordinance, which could be voted on at the May 7 council meeting.

Hahn told council members that an individual has been seen around town openly carrying a handgun in a holster in the last few weeks.

Hahn said he only knows of one encounter with the individual in Washington, but said the same person has been seen around Franklin County.

Hahn said he video-tapes his encounters with police or sheriff deputies and then edits and posts the videos on YouTube.

“He parks his car and walks around and makes sure he’s seen. He knows his rights,” Hahn said.

“There is no law against it (open carrying of a firearm) unless a business or government building prohibits it (with a sign),” the police chief said.

Hahn told The Missourian that he wants the ordinance to be adopted in order to be proactive.

He said it’s a safety concern for his officers, citizens and the individual, himself. Hahn said he does not want a confrontation to take place, where somebody ends up getting hurt.

“We have a fix (with this ordinance), so if it’s passed, it will be a moot point,” Hahn said.

It was noted that a sign prohibiting weapons is located in several city buildings.

Councilman Tim Brinker said he also would like the ordinance to address all city property, including parks and other open spaces.

In addition, Brinker said he wanted to ensure the ordinance did not deter hunters from carrying or transporting weapons to and from their vehicles.

Missouri allows open carry of firearms, but city, county and municipalities are allowed to pass laws and ordinances restricting this.

The city of St. Louis and several surrounding municipalities have restricted the open carrying of firearms.

In January, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, filed legislation, Senate Bill 680, which would bar counties and other municipalities from restricting firearms in any way, including their “use, keeping, possession, bearing (and) transportation.”

His bill is currently in the Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.