The Safe Carry Protection Act takes effect July 1 and, in addition to letting bars and churches allow guns inside, it also makes it legal for licensed gun carriers to take their weapons into government buildings that don’t screen for guns at entrances.
Hobgood said he has asked City Attorney Bobby Dyer to research the inner workings of the law to determine what it will mean for Canton City Hall.
The mayor said he’s worried by the legislation, because the city will have to add security measures for guns to be banned in the building, measures likely to cost money.
“I think we can restrict guns in City Hall, but it’s going to cost us more than it has been,” Hobgood said.
Today, people going into City Hall are only screened for guns at the entrance to the municipal courtroom when court is in session.
For Hobgood, simply allowing guns in the building isn’t likely an option. The mayor said he would be opposed to such an idea.
“I don’t know too many people who are opposed to ownership of firearms. I do think, in government buildings, they should not be allowed, particularly in areas where there are contro-versial things being discussed,” Hobgood said.
One contro-versial area at Canton City Hall could be the council chambers, where the City Council and Canton Planning Commission meet and heated debates regularly come up.
“A lot of people are already mad when they get there,” the mayor said.
Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), who was a signer on the bill, agreed the law might equal extra costs for some local governments that don’t already have secured buildings.
But she said she doesn’t understand the “fear mongering” regarding the bill, which says allowing the weapons would be dangerous, because governments that don’t have secure buildings had no way of keeping “bad guys” out before. The security measures they’ll have to add would likely increase security, she said.
Ballinger added the law was meant to protect the rights of law-abiding residents who choose to carry guns. She said that is being misunderstood in many cases.
“Everybody thinks guns are going to be sprouting from everybody’s ears,” she said. “I just don’t get it. I really don’t.”
Also during the meeting, the council will:
• Discuss awarding and executing a contract with Allied Paving Contractors Inc. for the 2014 LMIG Street Repair;
• Discuss the city employee YMCA membership benefit;
• Discuss waste removal contract options;
• Discuss a service fee for water and sanitation credit card payments;
• Discuss the waste water treatment plant renovations design in terms of quality assurance and control and a mandate for American steel to be used; and
• Discuss management of Canton Paw Park, which some have suggested the city should take over.