"Open Carry" Ban Passes With Emergency Provision
Maplewood City Council approved the provision to immediately outlaw the carrying of unconcealed firearms in the city.
Carrying exposed firearms in Maplewood is no longer allowed.
Maplewood City Council voted to ban the practice—often referred to as open carry—with a 6-1 vote during a meeting on Tuesday night. Third Ward Councilman Shawn Faulkingham was the only dissenting vote.
The council attached an emergency provision to the bill, which makes the ordinance immediately effective. Most ordinances require 15 days to pass before taking effect.
The vote follows an incident on March 12 when a man carried an unconcealed gun in Walmart, which prompted workers to call police. Carrying an exposed firearm is not outlawed by state statutes, but local ordinances can restrict or ban the practice. Some cities completely ban open carry, some require people who carry exposed firearms to own a concealed carry permit, while other cities do nothing at all. No training is required for people who carry an exposed firearm, but it is required if someone wishes to carry a concealed firearm.
Five people—none from Maplewood—spoke in support of open carry during a public forum period.
Marc Perez, from Glencoe, read aloud which cities in St. Louis County still allow open carry and said Missouri has allowed open carry for more than 100 years.
"We have one incident by one person who was within his right in the City of Maplewood, and now the City of Maplewood wants to change that?" Perez said.
Residents from O'Fallon, Overland and St. Louis City also spoke against the ban. Myles McCabe, the only Maplewood resident who spoke, said he respected the right to carry firearms but didn't support open carry.
After the forum, Mayor James White read from a prepared statement.
"The open carry of a firearm is allowed by the second amendment, but it is also completely irresponsible and an affront to most citizens today," White said. He added:
"Today a Maplewood police officer would generally not be able to stop an individual with an open carry to determine his or her identification. Unfortunately, in many cases, the officer can only take action after the individual has committed a crime with the weapon and this is simply not acceptable. We as government officials have the right and authority to legislate such conduct, and to me it would be a violation of our oath of office not to protect the majority of our citizens who do not approve of open carry."
No other council members voiced an opinion about banning open carry, though some shared their concerns via e-mail leading up to the March and April city council meetings.
The only council debate surrounded a hypothetical situation where a person who is carrying a concealed firearm under his or her coat could break the law by removing the coat before entering a car. Council members discussed amending the ordinance to address this specific situation but opted to leave the bill's wording untouched.
“I know our police department and I know their judgment will be sound,” White said.
After the meeting, Faulkingham said the bill was passed without enough debate.
"I would rather sit down over a work session," Faulkingham said. "I think some of the wording is wrong."
In an e-mail sent to city council on Tuesday, Faulkingham wrote:
"My issue with this legislation is simple; we really did not discuss this ordinance other than a couple of e-mails. I am disappointed that the council never sat down face to face to discuss this. Trash cans have received more discussion than this. Even though I do agree that there needs to be a ban on open carry, the way we have done this should not, nor ever, be the norm. To not discuss in person an ordinance that could potentially change and affect one of our Constitutional rights is really not doing our due diligence, whether we agree with it or not."