Thursday, February 21, 2013
City employees in The Colony wish to carry handguns on the job
The council has agreed to discuss it.
THE COLONY The signs are everywhere — "Concealed weapons prohibited on premises" — but some city employees are asking that a change be made allowing them to carry concealed handguns while on the job.
As gun law debates swirl around the nation, individuals have found themselves caught in the crossfire of where they stand on the issue, and The Colony's city employees are no different. City Manager Troy Powell said several city employees have asked the City Council to reconsider its current stance, which does not allow them to carry concealed handguns.
The conversation began Tuesday as the City Council discussed the item during a workshop.
"I'm not sure if it will make a future agenda or not as I'm not sure how the council will feel," Powell said before the meeting. "I'm mainly just bringing it up to see if there is interest before we do too much evaluation on it."
Powell said he believes the conversation was spurred because some employees hold concealed handgun licenses.
Scott, a city employee who asked that his last name not be revealed, said he believes that people who have been vetted and trained should be allowed to carry concealed handguns.
"It is unfortunate when a person loses their ability to cope with a difficult situation and seeks to harm others, but that's the world we live in," he said. "Ultimately, we are responsible for our own safety and the police and firefighters are our cavalry who arrive as quickly as possible, even when one of their own has gone bad. If I come under attack, I must defend myself as my family is counting on me being around a few more years. If lives are saved because I stop an attack on myself and others, that's a good thing."
Scott added that individuals who are well trained in handling firearms in difficult situations are they key to stopping a person who is intent on killing others.
"Bad people with guns are a bad thing, and law-abiding citizens should be rewarded for slowing down or stopping an attack until the police can arrive," he said. "Safety, education and practice are key elements for CHL holders to defend themselves, their families, and communities against violent attacks. I thank God our nation's founders saw fit to help ensure our freedom by giving us the liberty — and responsibility — to defend ourselves."
According to the Texas Concealed Handgun Laws, handguns are not allowed in bars or on the premises of a business that derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
Handguns are also prohibited on the premises where a high school, collegiate, professional sporting or interscholastic event is taking place; or in a correctional facility, hospital, or nursing home — unless a licensee has written authorization. They are also prohibited in amusement parks; churches, synagogues, or other places of worship; or at any meeting of a governmental entity.
Individuals are also barred from carrying a concealed weapon in or on premises with a 30.06 sign stating that carrying a firearm is prohibited.
Mayor Joe McCourry said the city currently follows the state law concerning where individuals have the right to carry but questioned whether the city should make some changes.
"I think it's a good time for us, like the federal government, to have this type of conversation," he said. "What kinds of policies do we want to have here? Do we want to expand them to say that [concealed weapons] can be allowed [by license holders] in government buildings by staff but maybe not by the general public — which is the current rule now? It's OK to have the discussion and where it goes will be up to the majority of the council."
McCourry said the workshop item is just an opening discussion, although he noted it might gain traction.
"Should we make some changes — I think that's what the discussion is," he said. "How much leeway do we really have? Just like you see across the nation you can relax the laws or strengthen them, and [it is not] until someone challenges you is there an issue."
Neighboring cities like Flower Mound have not had any requests by city staff concerning its policy on concealed handguns.
"I confirmed we have no policy or ordinance prohibiting a person from lawfully carrying a concealed weapon," said Molly Fox, spokeswoman for the town of Flower Mound. "State law prohibits concealed weapons at a Town Council meeting, in the Municipal Court Building, or in our jail at the Flower Mound Police Department."
A city of Frisco spokeswoman said she and City Manager George Purefoy have not heard of any requests from city employees regarding the carrying of concealed weapons inside city buildings.
Bruce Glasscock, Plano city manager, said his office had not received any inquiries from city employees wishing to carry handguns while on the job. However, the city is currently reviewing its policy, which bans employees from carrying firearms on city property, to ensure it is in compliance with existing state law, Glasscock said.
As of December 2012, a total of 584,850 individuals held an active CHL in the state of Texas. Individuals between the ages of 48 and 64 made up the largest group of applicants in 2012.
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