Monroe City Council Tuesday moved forward with a resolution that will enable its elected leaders to be the first in Butler County to carry guns at meetings.
However, some council members had questions about the proposed resolution and wanted more information before taking a final vote. Council approved the first reading by a 5-2 vote with Council members Jason Frentzel and Anna Hale casting no votes.
Council will consider adopting the resolution at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the Monroe City Building.
During the discussion, Mayor Robert Routson said he has several questions that need to be answered such as how this resolution would affect the city’s insurance as well as other liability issues for a council member to carry a concealed weapon. He also said he has talked to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser who asked to review the resolution.
He and other council members said they wanted to hear more from residents on their thoughts. Routson, a former police officer, said there are situations when it can can feel a little uneasy sitting up there.
Councilwoman Christina McElfresh asked what the cost would be to post an officer at council meetings.
“I think having a police officer posted could be an option,” she said.
At Monroe council meetings, police Chief Bob Buchanan is usually in attendance or another officer is there to represent the police department.
McElfresh said council should consider allowing anyone with a valid CCW permit to carry at council meetings.
Councilman Keith Funk said council’s discussions on the issue thus far has been whether its is their right to conceal carry or if they can adopt such legislation. However, he said council has not discussed if there was a need to take this action. Funk, a CCW permit holder, said he personally has not felt the need to have a gun at a council meeting, but he would like to get more information.
Vice Mayor Dan Clark, who is in the process of obtaining a CCW permit, said the issue of council being enable to carry a gun at a meeting is more of a “have but not need it rather than a need it and not have it….. That’s the reason why people get a CCW permit.”
Another CCW permit holder, Councilman Todd Hickman, has advocated the CCW resolution and said just because it gets passed doesn’t mean you have to carry a gun in here…. “It’s passed as a option for you.”
He said he there have been a few occasions where he was concerned.
Hickman said as far as the public or staff being permitted to conceal carry, he said that would be up to City Manager Bill Brock. He said this proposed resolution is the same as a school board authorizing certain teachers to carry concealed weapons or have access to a firearm in the building.
Frentzel, also a CCW holder, said in the five years he has attended council meetings as a citizen or council member, he has never felt the need to have a weapon at council meeting. However, he is concerned about the perception that it could create inside and outside of the community and is afraid of the negative impact it may have on the city in attracting businesses to Monroe.
Hale said she did not feel there was a need for council to approve the resolution “at the present time.”
According to the proposed resolution, “it is the opinion of City Council that they are susceptible to criminal attack during meetings of Council and meetings of Council committees …
State law “authorizes a governing body with authority over a government facility of a political subdivision to permit a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into such building.”
The city’s proposed resolution does contain exceptions tailored to the City Building at 233 S. Main St.:
- council members cannot conceal carry a weapon in Council Chambers while Mayor’s Court is in session
- council members cannot conceal carry a weapon inside the part of the building where the Monroe Police Department is located
- if the police department is someday relocated, council members cannot carry a concealed weapon into the future police facility.
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