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City gun policy to remain the same

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Concealed carry of handguns will still be allowed in city meetings following a vote by City Council. 

A resolution which could prohibit firearms “where a meeting of the City Council or any city board, commission, committee or body is being held if the meeting is an open meeting subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act” was opposed by the San Marcos City Council Tuesday evening. Six council members voted against the resolution, with the exception of Councilmember Joca Marquez, who voted in favor. 

Following the decision, individuals licensed to carry a concealed handgun may continue to bring their handguns into city meetings. Those without a license to carry are still unable to bring a handgun into city chambers, and open carry is still prohibited. 

Though council opposed the resolution this week, they unanimously supported entertaining a larger conversation about the issue. 

“Mayor, I think it would be helpful that we have a work session or a larger conversation that we really can bring in people in the community that have some expertise and outside the community along with Mr. (Bert) Lumbreras and his staff to continue this conversation,” Councilmember Lisa Prewitt said. 

The resolution landed on council’s docket as part of city staff’s recent efforts to increase security in City Hall. According to City Manager Bert Lumbreras, staff is proceeding with other security measures such as the installation metal plates in council diocese, purchase of metal detectors and metal wands, installation of security cameras at various city facilities and the hire of additional part-time officers. 

“Staff wanted to bring to you several recommendations and part of that has been in the budget and part of this in this item here to look at our overall security,” Lumbreras said. “As we currently know, we have little security whatsoever here at City Hall.”

Marquez said that her decision to support the resolution largely came from her personal experiences, though she remains open to more research about the issue. 

“I feel like places like schools, churches, council meetings, committee meetings, commissioners meetings, it should not be a place for firearms at all,” Marquez said. “We have a person that protects us, we have an officer, I mean to me even having an officer is problematic simply because you know they could be out there doing other things rather than trying to protect us here on council. I personally think that nothing should get heated enough where people have to resort to violence, resort to having a gun here in these premises.”

Greg Clayton, along with other individuals, spoke during public comment against the handgun resolution. 

“This resolution will only impact law-abiding citizens,” Clayton said. “Any person with the intent to do harm will not dissuaded by this law. 

In other business, council voted to approve an updated contract with VeoRide for the renewal of its Dockless Bike Share System. The proposed contract has been updated to address citizen complaints and idle bicycles, which were addressed in council’s Aug. 6 meeting. 

Additionally, council voted against Resolution 2019-159R on Tuesday, which provides no objections to LDG Development’s submission of an application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for low-income housing tax credits. According to city staff, the developer did not meet City’s current affordable housing policy. However, if city policy is updated, the applicant may still bring back the resolution for approval. 

“If we change our policy, then I’m willing, me, to entertain a request of this type, but right now it’s against our policy and I can’t do it,” Mayor Jane Hughson said. 

Councilmembers also approved an amended ordinance that will call for a Nov. 5 General Election to be conducted jointly with Hays County. The upcoming election will employ a new system of voting which will allow community members to vote at any polling place on election day, not just their respective precinct voting locations. 

San Marcos Record

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