The Ottumwa City Council pulled a proposed gun ordinance from its agenda Tuesday while it reviews whether the ordinance banning citizens from carrying firearms into any city owned or leased building would be legal under state law. Ottumwa Police Chief Jim Clark says he wrote the ban in response to the state’s new “right to carry law.” He predicts there will be a substantial increase in the number of people applying for concealed weapons permits, and he doesn’t want those weapons to wind up at city hall.
“You got people coming into city council meetings that may not be happy with what’s going on and they could be armed. And there’s nothing in the law at this point that prohibits that,” Clark says. Clark says he worried a lot people who shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun will be, including gang members or people with mental illness.
“Everyone remembers what happened down in Mount Pleasant where the mayor and several council members were shot and killed by a disgruntled citizen carrying a firearm. And I don’t want to see that happen in our community,” Clark explains.
Clark says he doesn’t have a problem with the law overall. He says he wouldn’t mind the law if it gave cities the opportunity to restrict people’s ability to carry weapons on city property like the ordinance he has proposed. “All I’m interested in is trying to protect our city elected officials, our city employees, and the visitors to our buildings,” Clark says.
The state’s new weapons permit law requires county sheriffs to grant a permit to anyone that meets basic legal requirements. Clark says the city is trying to determine if his proposed ban would run afoul of state law which prohibits local governments from adopting gun laws that are stricter than the state’s.