The Lansing City Council Thursday voted to give themselves an extension on deciding how and if to beef up security in municipal buildings in response to a new state law.
The council heard a briefing from Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman, who laid out steps to comply with a law passed by the Kansas Legislature in the last session that forces municipal governments to either allow licensed concealed carry of firearms in their buildings or establish “adequate security measures,” to include metal detectors and security guards, at each public entrance to each building in order to bar the carrying of weapons. Currently, Wayman said the city has signs posted at the entrances to its buildings prohibiting firearms of any kind being carried into the building.
“Come July 1, they've done away with that,” as an option, Wayman said.
To put up the kind of security measures called for in the law could prove financially difficult ― standing metal detectors alone, he said, could cost up to $6,000 each.
“When you start talking 4, 5, 6 different places, it starts adding up,” he said.
Wayman presented three different options ― allow the law to take effect and remove the existing signs; send a letter now to the Kansas attorney general asking for a six-month exemption to the law, giving the city until Jan. 1, 2014; or submit a security plan and approve a resolution identifying the exempted buildings for a 4-year exemption.
“If you're going to adopt a security plan, it's going to have to have the security personnel, the screening devices in place,” he said.
Mayor Billy Blackwell said the recommendation was to pursue the second of the two options, sending a letter to the attorney general for a short-term exemption.
“That'll give us six months from July 1 to Jan. 1 next year to get this on a work session and have some healthy discussion about what direction we want to go,” he said. “Because this is another unfunded mandate that's being pushed down on us.”
City Administrator Mike Smith said the proposed action was not an uncommon one.
“About 90 percent of the cities are going after the extension,” he said.
In the meantime, the issue might work itself out, Blackwell said. That's because, as City Attorney Greg Robinson said, some details of the law are unclear or seemingly contradictory.
“There's going to be a lot of issues coming out of this,” he said.