GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 25, 2014) – The sight of a gun, whether it’s being carried legally or not has ignited a firestorm of debate inside the Grand Rapids City Chambers. The isn’t the first time the issue has been in the cross-hairs at a commission meeting.
This is an issue raised by one gun owner a year and a half ago, when Tom Lambert came to a commission meeting after noticing what he said was a city ordinance in Grand Rapids that doesn’t fall in line with state law.
The ordinance prohibits people from carrying guns in public meetings unless they have been issued a license by and there is no bullet in the chamber. Some say the ordinance is unnecessary because state law already state states that a person must have a license to purchase, carry or possess a pistol, others argue the ordinance doesn’t go far enough.
Before the commission meeting on Tuesday, Mayor George Heartwell voiced a concern, “I note the presence of a number of armed civilians in the audience tonight. That may make you uncomfortable. I know it makes me uncomfortable.”
A position Mayor Heartwell has stood by since the issue was first raised by a man from Kentwood nearly a year and a half ago. Tom Lambert said he and others have the right to carry their firearms at the meeting and elsewhere in the city.
“You have on multiple occasions advocated for confusion,” Lambert said as he addressed Mayor Heartwell.
Lambert urged other gun owners to proudly display their opinions for the commission and the public to see.
The mayor has made his position clear. He sees a gun in commission chambers as a threatening gesture and has no plans of changing the ordinance. Others in the community stood by the mayor’s side.
Even former Grand Rapids Mayor John H. Logie felt compelled to weigh in.
“I recommend that we buy a gently used airport scanner and put it right there at the door,” he said.
Lambert said this issue and the sight of his gun can go away in simple order, “The easiest way to make it right is to get rid of the ordinance.”
In the end both the commissioners and the mayor made it clear, they have no plans to make any changes to the city laws regarding firearms at this time.
They had an extra police officer on hand at the meeting for security reasons.