EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 19, 2012

Salem seeks to repeal Town Hall gun ban

Town Hall policy violates state law

(Continued)

“This doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be other recourse for employees who come to work carrying firearms,” she said.

A federal law forbids anyone from carrying a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school, McKean said. Town Hall happens to be in a “gun-free zone” because it is across the street from Salem High School.

“We would certainly fall within the federal zone,” she said.

A bill pending in the state Legislature seeks to eliminate that safety zone, she said.

No one on the board questioned the proposal to drop the year-old ban, which was endorsed by selectmen, along with other changes to the policy. A public hearing on the policy will be held in January before selectmen take a final vote.

Selectman Stephen Campbell said yesterday he supports elimination of the ban if it means the town is taking the necessary steps to comply with state law.

“If (employees) acted inappropriately, there would be other sections of the policy that would allow us to take appropriate action,” he said.

McKean said her research of New Hampshire communities revealed that only a handful of towns had such policies.

Sandown selectmen banned firearms from their Town Hall last year after a local resident walked into the building with a handgun stuck in her belt. A town employee became concerned even though the woman was there only to register a car.

Sandown Selectmen James Devine and Brenda Copp said they were only trying to do the right thing when they reinstated an old ordinance that allowed only law enforcement officers to carry a weapon in town buildings.

But the board dropped the ban after only two weeks after receiving a letter from Concord attorney Penny Dean, a representative for Gun Owners of New Hampshire.

Dean said she simply notified Sandown that its ban violated state law and she would take legal action, if necessary, to protect the public’s right to self-defense.

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