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December 19, 2012

Salem seeks to repeal Town Hall gun ban

Town Hall policy violates state law

SALEM — While news of the fatal shooting of 26 people at a Connecticut school Friday has raised concern across the country about tighter gun control laws, Salem is looking its repeal its firearms ban at Town Hall.

Human resources director Molly McKean has proposed eliminating a section of the town’s personnel policy that prohibits Salem municipal employees from bringing weapons into the building.

She presented her proposal to selectmen Monday night — only days after a former Kingston man shot his mother at their home in Newtown, Conn., before killing 20 children and six teachers and administrators at a nearby elementary school. He then killed himself.

The shootings stunned the nation, with many questioning why 20-year-old Adam Lanza would shoot and kill more than two dozen innocent people and wondering how the slaughter could have been prevented.

But McKean, who said she’s just trying to strengthen the town’s personnel policy, said the firearms ban violates a state law that allows people to carry firearms in public places. That includes the New Hampshire Statehouse.

“Especially with the timing, I begrudgingly propose this,” she told selectmen.

McKean, a lawyer hired as human resources director a year ago, said yesterday she included the ban in the town’s personnel policy, but was informed by a town employee several months ago that it conflicted with state law.

McKean said she believed it would be best to correct the oversight when updating the policy for 2013. She said the well-intended measure would never survive a legal challenge and later realized it wasn’t necessary anyway.

Provisions of the town policy that prohibit employee harassment would remain in effect, according to McKean and Town Manager Keith Hickey. That means an employee who walked into Town Hall wielding a gun would be subject to the harassment provision and face possible dismissal if found in violation, McKean said.

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