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Indianapolis council shies away from weapons ban

Wary of lawsuits, Indianapolis City-County Council decides against recreational shooting ban
Posted on April 15, 2014 at 4:42 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis City-County Council has defeated a ban on residents discharging weapons recreationally within city limits after hearing the measure likely would attract lawsuits.

The council voted down the ban Monday despite some north side residents’ complaints that duck hunters along the White River have terrified them in recent years. The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/1kYpxqx ).

A ban could expose city to lawsuits because a 2011 law passed by the Indiana General Assembly prohibits cities from passing ordinances that are stricter than state law, Corporation Counsel Andy Seiwert said.

“The risk of enacting a ban has a great downside,” Seiwert said.

State law allows citizens to sue municipalities that pass their own gun laws, Councilman Will Gooden said.

“My concern is we are exposing ourselves to extreme consequences, extreme liability and extreme costs,” Gooden said.

Councilman Ben Hunter called the state law “an affront to home rule” but agreed it was too risky to challenge it.

Councilwoman Angela Mansfield, who brought the proposed ban before the council, said formerly rural areas of Indianapolis have been developed and it was dangerous to allow gunfire there.

Councilwoman Christine Scales, who also supported the proposed ban, said afterward the council had put financial concerns ahead of safety.

“We are talking about people’s lives, and we are concerned about cost,” she said.

A current law prohibits target practice, hunting and random shooting of guns within Indianapolis’ old city limits, with violators subject to a fine, but attorneys for the city discovered that the ordinance was unenforceable because of the state law. Mansfield had sought to expand the ban to the rest of Marion County, which was consolidated with the city in 1970.

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com




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