At DuBois meeting ... Resident asserts right to carry weapon|
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By Josh Woods Staff Writer
DUBOIS - Public comments on the lawful possession of a firearm were offered at last night's DuBois City Council meeting for the second time in as many meetings. An executive session was held afterward to discuss the issue with the city solicitor.
Resident Lester Smiley asked council to keep him up-to-date on whether someone would be allowed to carry a permitted firearm into the DuBois municipal building. He reiterated his stance that the only people who should carry firearms to meetings should be officers of the law.
Smiley said he took Lee Mitchell to dinner and to a Democratic meeting with the stipulation that he could not bring a gun. Mitchell has carried a permitted weapon to city council meetings. He said he had nothing against Mitchell, who had told him he carries a firearm because he can carry it lawfully.
"What concerns me is that he sees a necessity to carry a gun into these meetings," said Smiley. "What does that say?"
Mitchell addressed council as well and read excerpts from the crimes and offenses portion of the state's Title 18 statute. Chapter 53, Section 6120 is titled "limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition." Under Section 6120 (a) general rule it states, "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth."
Chapter 53, Section 5301, official oppression, states "A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, knowing his conduct is illegal, he (1) subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights or (2) denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity."
Mitchell noted Warren v. District of Columbia, Riss v. New York and Lynch v. North Carolina Department of Justice are examples of Supreme Court decisions related to official oppression and the lawful possession of a firearm. The state constitution's declaration of rights protects citizens' right to bear arms in defense of themselves, he said.
Resident Sam Miles said those who have sufficiently tested for a concealed weapons permit are issued one, and it is well within everyone's constitutional rights to lawfully carry a firearm. However, he said, common sense should be applied in this situation.
Police Chief Mike DiLullo said it is his department's job to protect and serve and he attends the meetings to ensure the public's safety.
DiLullo personally addressed Mitchell, "No one here wants to offend you or wants to violate your rights in any way. Sometimes you have to step back and look at how actions affect what goes on. With everything that goes on in today's world people are scared, and we have to understand that."
City Solicitor Toni Cherry called an executive session after the meeting to discuss the issue.
DiLullo gave his department's monthly report. During the month of January, DuBois PD responded to 28 thefts, five burglaries, seven instances of forgery/fraud, 16 activated alarms, nine acts of criminal mischief, 43 harassments or assaults, 16 disorderly conducts, 35 disturbances or fights, eight animal calls or complaints, 18 reports of suspicious people or circumstances and 11 instances of trespassing or unwanted people.
The department checked on the welfare or mental health of an individual 17 times, investigated seven lost, missing or runaway people cases, and conducted 18 drug or narcotic investigations and four liquor law investigations. Police responded to 33 traffic accidents or investigations, issued 39 citations and eight warnings, issued 47 parking tickets and assisted other agencies 10 times. Total calls for service in January were 662.
DiLullo provided council with a copy of statistics from Clearfield County Emergency Management Agency that broke down DuBois police's monthly calls for service. The department totaled 10,184 calls for service in 2010.
Prior to the meeting, council conducted a second public hearing for its 2011 Community Development Block Grant program. The city's estimated allocation is $350,000. City Manager John "Herm" Suplizio said the city estimates $60,000 for administrative costs, $65,000 for the demolition of blighted homes, $35,000 for downtown streetscape improvements, $90,000 for Goodwill Hose Co. firehall improvements, $65,000 for the next phase of the Beaver Meadow Walkway project and $35,000 to repave the parking lot at the senior center.
Suplizio said it's possible the city would use less than $65,000 for the demolition of homes because private residents bought three of the five homes the city recently attempted to purchase through judicial sale. The city approved the purchase of the other two homes for the purpose of demolition last night at a cost of $2,400. The homes are located on Brady and Morrison streets.
Council also approved:
• the sale of scrap metal to Joe Krentzman & Sons Inc. at $201 per net ton of mixed tin and $225 per net ton of heavy steel.
• a first reading of a council bill recommending a four-way stop at the intersection of Leopold Avenue and Rhodes Alley.
• DuBois Volunteer Fire Department's purchase of the Digilarmo property on Spring Avenue.
• proclaiming February "Heart Health Awareness Month."
DuBois City Council's next meeting, a work session, is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at the city building. Its next regular meeting is Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.