A proposed city ordinance backed by Mission Police Chief John Simmons that would have made it against the law to be in possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime is on hold.
The proposal is modeled after a Topeka ordinance that was passed after two Topeka police officers were killed on duty in December 2012. It had been planned for introduction in September to a Mission City Council committee, but was taken off the agenda shortly before the meeting.
The proposed ordinance would make it “unlawful to possess a firearm during the commission or attempted commission of any of the following offenses:” after which it lays out 19 crimes that would be covered, including assault of a law enforcement officer, battery against a law enforcement officer, stalking, criminal trespass, domestic battery, and assault.
Simmons said he “absolutely” still supports the ordinance. If police arrest a person for any of the city violations, they are usually ticketed and released fairly quickly, not held in jail. If they have a firearm, police must return it to them when they are released. Stalking is just one example of a crime where returning a gun immediately may not be the best course, Simmons says.
The proposed ordinance would allow police to keep the gun until the court decides if and when it should be returned to the owner. In essence, Simmons says, it provides a cooling off period. “Generally, anger and firearms don’t mix together well,” he said.
The police chief emphasizes that the Mission Police Department does not want to be taking guns away or to prevent anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Simmons said he believes in the right to own and possess firearms. “But I don’t think people who are committing a crime need to be carrying guns,” he said.
“I loved what they were doing in Topeka,” he said. “I think it makes sense.” He describes himself as a life-long sportsman and “gun guy” but believes the ordinance is just “common sense.”
Last month city administrator Gerry Vernon said the ordinance might come back at some point in the future. The problem, he suggested, was that a cover letter accompanying the ordinance implied it had the support of the National Rifle Association and the Kansas State Rifle Association during its Topeka discussion. The statement was based on information from Topeka, but Mission discovered it might not be accurate only shortly before it went to council. The ordinance was pulled from the agenda as a result.
(Calls by PVPost.com to the Kansas State Rifle Association for comment have gone unreturned. After inquiries to the NRA field representative went unanswered for some days, we did receive a referral to another NRA office late last night.)
The ordinance is embedded below: