Lebanon City Council Considers Allowing Firearms in Meetings

Council members will discuss the proposal, meant to save on security costs, at the city's Feb. 11 council meeting

Feb 3, 2020 at 6:12 pm
click to enlarge Lebanon City Hall - Photo: City of Lebanon/Facebook
Photo: City of Lebanon/Facebook
Lebanon City Hall

If you're a small city looking to save money on security during your evening city council meetings, here's a novel idea: Let elected officials carry guns to them.

That's an idea Lebanon City Council is considering.

Newly-elected council member Joe Shafer says he supports the proposal allowing council members with concealed carry permits to bring weapons to meetings because security for the city's multi-purpose administrative building — which also includes municipal courts and other functions — isn't there in the evenings.

The proposal first came up for discussion Jan. 7 during a council meeting, and now the city's law department is looking into the possibility. Officials will debate it more at the body's Feb. 11 meeting.

Another suburban Cincinnati city, Wyoming, passed a similar law in April 2017 but struck it from the books a month later due to controversy. Few other Ohio cities have such a provision.

“I wanted to establish a safer environment in our building as we conduct our meetings without adding significant cost to the taxpayer,” Shafer told the Dayton Daily News. "We can just handle it ourselves. You are kind of offering yourself as a protector of the public.”

There could be obstacles to implementing the idea, however. For example, there probably isn't a legal way to restrict the ability to carry weapons to council members only. Anyone with a concealed carry permit would likely have to be allowed to carry a weapon in the building during meetings under an ordinance like the one Shafer and others support. It's also unclear if the city would be liable for injuries or deaths caused due to firearms brought into the building under the ordinance, or how much insurance would cost against those kinds of incidents.

At least one other council member has suggested installing a metal detector instead. 

Further discussion — though probably no vote just yet — is scheduled for Lebanon's next city council meeting Feb. 11.