Lawsuit filed against Hammond gun ban

2011-08-29T21:40:00Z 2011-08-30T13:55:04Z Lawsuit filed against Hammond gun banBy Lindsay Machak, (219) 933-3246

HAMMOND | A lawsuit was filed Monday against Hammond for refusing to repeal its ban on weapons in city buildings and parks, which contradicts a new state law.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed on behalf of a Hammond grandmother and a Highland resident who attends college in Hammond.

Michelle Bahus, lives within half a block of a Hammond park and wishes to bring her gun with her when she takes her grandchildren out, said her attorney, Guy Relford.

Even though Bahus has a state license to carry, she is prohibited by city code from taking a gun to the park.

Another city ordinance bans people from bringing firearms to any public building owned or leased by the city.

The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in the spring that allows registered firearm owners to carry guns inside public buildings that do not host a court.

In an earlier interview with The Times, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he doesn't plan to violate the state law, "But we don't have to repeal it ... it's just illegal and we will not enforce it."

Hammond approved its gun ban after a woman was shot and killed in City Hall by her estranged husband in 1991.

However, the new state law made it clear that Hoosiers could sue if a municipality failed to repeal a contradictory local ban.

That's exactly what Bahus and Samuel G. Dykstra did.

Dykstra, of Highland, visits Hammond regularly for classes at Purdue Calumet, Relford said.

He also has a license to carry a concealed weapon, but feels he is being slighted by the city's refusal to change the ordinances.

The plaintiffs in the suit could be awarded up to three times their  court costs and attorney's fees.

The suit also pushes a court to order the city to repeal or amend the ordinances to comply with state code.

The Hammond City Council denied a proposal to allow firearms in city buildings other than City Hall earlier this month. City Hall hosts city court and therefore would be able to keep its gun ban under the new state law, which took effect July 1.

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