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Whitewater OKs concealed carry rule

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Kevin Hoffman
September 28, 2011
— Gun owners hoping to take advantage of the state’s concealed carry law this fall could face hefty fines if caught bringing firearms into Whitewater’s public buildings.

The city council passed an ordinance Tuesday banning guns inside a number of buildings in an effort to “promote the health, safety and general welfare” of the community. It also heard the first draft of an amendment that would levy fines of up to $300 against anyone violating the ordinance.


Penalties could escalate to $400 for a second offense within one year and $600 for a third, according to the proposal. The council supported the fines and could approve them next month.


City Attorney Wallace McDonell said the penalties weren’t compared with what other communities have done.


The Wisconsin Legislature in June passed the concealed carry bill, which will take effect Nov. 1. Several communities across the state are implementing their own restrictions, including Elkhorn, where the legislative and regulatory committee Thursday plans to discuss a potential ban.


Universities are considering their own options. The Royal Purple, UW-Whitewater’s student newspaper, reported the university will institute some sort of ban, though officials have yet to release details.


Limits can be placed on buildings, but licensed students would be free to carry firearms throughout campus.


Among the city’s restricted areas are the public library, park buildings, the lakefront center and the armory. State law requires signs to be posted at every entrance to each building where weapons are restricted.


Javonni Butler was the only councilman to oppose the ordinance during its first reading. He was absent during Tuesday’s meeting.


Alderman Lynn Binnie early in the process suggested the board keep an open mind about concealed carry, but he ultimately agreed with certain restrictions.


“When it’s all said and done, I’m not convinced that our citizens would be any safer if they or other law-abiding citizens were carrying a concealed weapons (in) the unthinkable event that there should be an armed perpetrator in one of our municipal buildings,” he said during a meeting earlier this month.


“I really dislike the fact that if this ordinance is passed, all our buildings will have to have signs posted prohibiting weapons, but after researching the subject, I feel that’s what we should do.”


Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Lisa Otterbacher was sworn in as the city’s new police chief, replacing Jim Coan after he left in March to accept a job in Minnesota.


A four-year agreement was unanimously approved by the city council. Otterbacher, who served as interim chief for the last six months, will earn $87,000 annually in her new role.


Other terms include $2,500 for moving expenses. Otterbacher lives just outside city limits, and the police chief is required to live within the city.


She was given one year to move, but an extension could be approved if Otterbacher has difficulties selling her home.



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