WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Since 1987, it has been legal to carry concealed weapons into Florida City Halls, but individual municipalities had enacted their own tougher gun rules. Beginning October 1, cities like West Palm Beach are relaxing gun rules to comply with the state law.
New legislation would fine city and county officials who adopt gun or ammunition laws which are stricter than the state. Those officials are already prohibited from tighter ordinances but there had been no teeth in the law.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio did not want the rules to change, but state law supersedes the orders of a mayor. The change in regulations allows concealed weapons permit holders to bring their guns into City Hall as well as the West Palm Beach Public Library. "We will comply with state law. And we, of course, have no desire to infringe on the rights of any gun owner," said Chase Scott, a spokesperson for the city of West Palm Beach.
Beginning Monday, City Hall visitors will enter through the front doors and walk through a metal detector, where police officers will check permits of anyone wishing to carry a gun into the building. That person will not be allowed to leave the first floor, where most of the public's business is conducted. "It will still be a safe building. It's just the manpower involved to handle this is a little different," said Scott.
"It's good to see that they are following the state law, whether it's gun control, immigration or anything else," said Doug Wilkinson of West Palm Beach who uses the public library several times per week. Wilkinson believes the allowance of weapons may make the City Center complex safer. "If there was an incident, like you hear about these crazy stories, maybe someone there can do something about it," he said.
State law does not allow guns in meetings with a governing body, which includes West Palm Beach City Commission meetings in the City Hall auditorium. If the mayor did not agree to comply with the new rules beginning October 1, the city could have faced a $5,000 fine and Mayor Muoio could have faced possible removal from office.
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