New Pal council reviews town hall gun policy
NEW PALESTINE – City officials are considering allowing employees to bring handguns into the workplace.
The topic was discussed at the last board meeting when Bill Niemier, chairman of the board, brought up the idea during a glance at the current employee handbook. He thinks that’s a good idea as long as the person who wants to bring a gun has a license to carry and passes gun safety training.
Niemier, who is a lawyer, said he researched the matter and found that some states prohibit employers from restricting employees from bringing weapons into their workplaces.
Indiana law allows an employee who legally owns a firearm to keep it in their vehicle on the job, as long as it is locked in the trunk, kept in the glove compartment of the locked vehicle, or stored away. another way out of sight in the locked vehicle.
âI think the unarmed areas are targets,â Niemier said. “I think criminals who do not follow laws or policies look for places where they can go and use a weapon with the certainty that there will be no resistance.”
Neimier would like the city’s employee manual to add a section allowing the carrying of a handgun, but only with security and license conditions. He noted that there are simply too many situations where authorities have seen armed people attack unarmed citizens who have to wait for law enforcement to arrive.
âI don’t want town hall to be an unarmed target or a place they can come to without resistance,â Niemier said.
Two of the five board members, Brandee Bastin and Chris Lytle, were not present at the meeting, but the three officials present, Niemier, Angie Fahrnow and Clint Bledsoe, all appeared to be in favor of the measure with a few stipulations added.
It would take three of the five council voters to approve the measure, which could be proposed as early as the next council meeting, scheduled for September 1.
Although Fahrnow was not as enthusiastic about the idea as Niemier, she was not against it. She said, however, that she thought it might be a good idea for anyone who wants to carry a gun in the workplace to undergo some sort of mental health assessment.
âI am careful,â Fahrnow said. “I think there should be a few other things that would allow people to carry guns here in the workplace.”
Fahrnow believes that the mental health aspect should be evaluated because these types of tests are not part of employee applications.
âI think it’s a good suggestion,â Niemier said in agreement.
Police chief Bob Ehle said all police employees undergo psychological assessments before they are allowed to enter the force; getting other city workers to do the same would probably be a good idea.
Bledsoe supports the idea of ââallowing employees to carry firearms. He doesn’t want to deny anyone his Second Amendment rights and eventually expose the city to any kind of lawsuit that might result.
“It’s fine with me,” said Bledsoe.
Clerk-treasurer Yvonne Jonas, who works daily in city offices, told council she would prefer to work in an environment where no one is carrying a gun.
âSometimes things happen in the workplace that don’t make people happy,â said Jonas, who has no voice. “You don’t want to get to the point where someone gets harassed and uses this weapon.”
Niemier quickly told Jonas that if she was in a situation where there were issues as she described it, she might wish she had a gun to protect herself and others. He said state lawmakers have been seriously talking about removing the requirement for a harbor permit, but he believes a permit is important and would like an employee to have one.
Niemier plans to create an employee handbook policy on the issue and submit it to the board.
âIf it goes, great, and if it doesn’t, so is it,â he said.