Oconomowoc removes ban on concealed weapons in most city buildings

Gun Rights

CITY OF OCONOMOWOC – The Common Council on Tuesdayunanimously voted to repeal the city’s concealed carry ordinance that barred all firearms from entering municipal buildings.

Ald. Matt Rosek proposed the change in March. The concealed carry ordinance was adopted in 2011. Previously, the city could not change the ordinance because city hall also housed the municipal court and police department, which are barred from having firearms present understate statute.

Now that the municipal court and police department are located elsewhere, a repeal was brought to the common council.

“Why would we as a government be more restrictive of people’s rights than Starbucks, or Pick ‘n Save or all of the other million places you can go with conceal carry weapons?” Rosek asked at the meeting. ”Why can’t we protect ourselves while we are here? Why can’t citizens coming in here for other business protect themselves? We do nothing right now to protect ourselves.”

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Though council members said they received many emails from residents about the proposed change after it was put on the May 3 agenda, no one showed up to speak on it at the meeting.

City Administrator Mark Frye said city staff looked at websites for 32 other municipalities to compare their current language and the proposed repeal. Of the 32, Frye stated that 17 had similar language barring concealed carry in municipal buildings and 15 did not have ordinances that mentioned concealed carry or firearms and that city staff were unable to make the assumption they did or did not bar firearms. Frye also mentioned two municipalities, West Bend and the city of Waukesha, that do allow conceale carry in most municipal buildings.

Discussion centered on limiting residents’ rights and also protection in case of a mass shooting or attack within municipal buildings.

“I can conceal carry at the city beach, but right now how it reads, I can’t walk into the community center,” Ald. Low Kowieski said at the meeting. ”This doesn’t allow me to enter a building that you felt safe with me 10 feet away. I’m in support of this and addressing people who sent the emails. There are some who feel this is the wrong step, but that same person you feel shouldn’t have the right to carry in that building, you are fine with 10 feet outside.”

Ald. Matt Molder said he favors concealed carry, but said the comments he heard most from staff and constituents were, “Don’t we have bigger things to do?” and ”Is this really a problem we’re fixing?”

“It’s been fine for 11 years, and I don’t think we have citizens coming up asking if they can bring in a gun as they pay their tax bill,” he added. ”All of the reasons are fine for those who have their permit. For the general population, they see this as a waste of time.”

This was a first reading of the ordinance but the motion to vote on the repeal included waiving a second reading. The repeal passed unanimously.

Concealed carry firearms will be allowed in most municipal buildings but not all. Firearms are still prohibited from the police station and the municipal court under state statutes. They are also still banned from the library; the Library Board makes its own determinations about firearms.

“I would encourage the library to also remove its sign,” Rosek said. ”All we’re doing is creating a soft target. The mass shooters and all the people who want to pick soft targets. You don’t hear of a lot of shootings at gun shows, NRA events or shooting range, and there’s a reason for that. There’s a guy to shoot back at you.”

Drew Dawson can be reached at ddawson@jrn.com or 262-289-1324.

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