Council defeats gun ordinance; city exposed to potential lawsuits

2011-08-23T18:30:00Z 2011-08-23T23:00:09Z Council defeats gun ordinance; city exposed to potential lawsuitsBy Pete Nickeas, (219) 933-4183

HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council defeated a proposal that would have changed the city gun and weapon ban to comply with a new state law.

State law allows guns in buildings without courtrooms. The state law trumps the city's ordinance, which bans deadly weapons in all city buildings.

The state law allows people to sue cities that adopt broad gun bans.

A proposed change to the city's ban, sponsored by Councilwoman Kim Poland, R-4th, was seen as a way to stifle potential lawsuits.

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. spoke against the proposal at the meeting, despite the city's potential exposure to litigation.

"If it's state law, let's let our Legislature explain why it's OK. I think a problem in Hammond is gun violence, and we're saying let's carry more guns," McDermott said.

Poland tried to withdraw the ordinance after a brief but tense exchange with McDermott, but the council members most often aligned with the mayor forced the measure to a vote.

The proposal was voted down.

"If I sign it, I violate my principles. If I don't sign it, we get sued," McDermott said.

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