Friday, March 1, 2013
The Colony makes move toward allowing officials to carry guns
The city manager said he wants "to have guns in as many hands of people who are licensed and legal to use them" as possible.
THE COLONY It's official -- The Colony City Council decided last week to look into changing its policy on employees carrying concealed handguns.
During a workshop held last Tuesday, City Manager Troy Powell presented a proposition to the council that would allow him, along with the city's attorney, to look into concealed handgun laws and make some changes. Those changes would include allowing city employees to carry concealed weapons while on the job inside municipal buildings.
"My personal feeling is that I would have no issue with our employees carrying [a handgun]," he said. "I think that I want to have guns in as many hands of people who are licensed and legal to use them as I can, but that's a personal opinion. We have gone down to Austin to visit with our state legislators -- some of you have seen that there is a special line for concealed carry to get into the capitol now. So they obviously don't have a lot of concern with legal citizens carrying legal guns so that was another thing that sparked that discussion."
Under state law, CHL holders are not allowed to carry a concealed handgun anywhere a governmental meeting is taking place, including city council meetings. Even if The Colony adopts a new policy, carrying firearms at meetings would still be prohibited under state law.
However, CHL holders are allowed to leave a concealed handgun in a locked, privately owned vehicle in a parking lot, garage, or other parking area at their place of employment, according to the Texas Labor Code 52.061.
"[The policy will have] what our recommendation on where we think it is appropriate and where we don't," Powell said. "One thing we have talked about is that if we are going to have employees carry, they notify HR and we can keep a copy of their CHL in their HR files. That might be necessary and it might not. We are going to look around and see what other cities have done."
Councilman Richard Boyer said he would support Powell looking into the situation and formulating a new policy.
"The way the policy is now, it appears that the restriction is on the people you would want [to carry] -- the people who have been through a background check, the people who have been through some training and are allowed by the state of Texas to carry," he said. "... I don't know that I would have a problem with you modifying or changing that policy."
Councilman Perry Schrag said he would also support a change in policy.
"Law-abiding citizens aren't the ones I'm concerned about," he said. "Frankly, I'm tired of law-abiding citizens being penalized for the actions criminals and those who are scared of those criminals and what they do are not the problem."
Shrag added that CHL holders are responsible for knowing the laws, including where they can and cannot carry and that those laws do not need to be added into the city's policy.
"If you were to look at the statistics of the general population versus the statistics of CHL holders, you would think the general population was full of thugs," he said. "CHL holders are law-abiding citizens and most CHL holders I know are very responsible and takes that right very seriously. I don't think any of that stuff needs to be stated in a policy. They should already know that, especially if they have managed to pass a written test and a background check."
Mayor Joe McCourry also agreed with a policy change.
"It's not the honest law-abiding citizens -- that's never been a problem out there," he said. "I think the scrutiny the staff is under at the city level, [and if the] executive staff meets with them and understands [the] employees, that this is not a problem for us to move forward with and highly recommend we do so."
Once Powell develops a new proposed policy, the item will appear on a regular City Council agenda and be put to vote by the council.
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