Racine officials want to exempt themselves from gun ban

RACINE (WITI) -- Elected officials in Racine want to vote to ban weapons in city buildings, but want themselves exempted from the rule. That is causing some controversy -- and a final vote on the issue was expected Wednesday evening, April 3rd.

More than a year after Racine banned guns in city buildings, the debate over concealed carry is heating up again. In March, aldermen voted 13-0 in committee to exempt themselves from the ban.

Council President Jim Kaplan says recently, online threats have been made against city leaders.

"I think we`ve seen things that have happened in Colorado and other places where public servants have been shot down because of judgments they`ve made," Kaplan said.

Under the ordinance, elected leaders could carry concealed weapons in city buildings with a permit -- something now limited to police officers and some members of the military.

Some gun rights activists call it hypocrisy.

"We don`t think that it`s fair that elected officials in Racine would create an elite class for themselves to protect themselves in a way that, you know, the people cannot protect their own selves," gun rights supporter Tamra Varebrook said.

Alderman Keith Fair originally voted for the exemption, but says people in his district had questions that changed his vote.

"What makes these folks more stable than these folks? Those are really legitimate questions," Fair said.

Kaplan says the ban is an alternative to having police officers at city meetings.

"Budgets are tight and why should we have police officers come off of the street when they could be protecting the citizens?" Kaplan said.

The ordinance passed less than an hour ago with a final vote of 9-5. One alderman who supported it pointed to a recent attack on a city council in Missouri as a reason why.