Legislature approves weapons ban
YATES COUNTY--The Yates County Legislature has approved a weapons ban in buildings owned or leased by the county at a special year-end meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 29. The ban, which explicitly notes open carrying in this version, had previously failed to pass in September when it did not get the minimum of eight votes.
"If there had been eight votes the previous version would have passed... I'm not sure why (the issue was) so contentious, it may be that people in general are feeling an overreach of government and they feel this is an example of that," said Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock after the meeting. "(This is) not an overreach, because if you look at other governmental buildings and counties in the area, very many of them ban weapons of all kinds."
Legislator Terry Button cast the sole vote against the law during the special meeting. Both Button and Legislator Carlie Chilson expressed concern during the special meeting and at previous meetings that a weapons ban could actually serve to make individuals less safe. The reasoning being that someone who wished to do harm would not abide by the rule, and leave the bystanders who follow laws defenseless.
Referencing other areas that prohibit weapons, Paddock said he hopes the opposite is true.
"I certainly hope it will make people feel better about their safety," Paddock mentioned.
Paddock previously stated during a legislative meeting that he is an avid recreational shooter and a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. However, he compared the weapons ban to an already in place state ban on firearms in courthouses and questioned the motivation of anyone who had a desire to bring a weapon to a governmental building.
"I'm not sure why folks would feel they should carry weapons either open or concealed in a governmental building," said Paddock.
With new legislative members coming in the new year, Button argued against taking up the issue at the year-end meeting and pushing it to January. That measure failed in a tight 6-6 vote.
The resolution reads:
"This local law prohibits any individual from bearing or having in his or her possession, openly, any dangerous weapon, while being present in any building owned, leased, or operated by the County of Yates, with "dangerous weapon" being defined as any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade less than two and one-half (2-½) inches in length. A dangerous weapon includes, but is not limited to, a firearm, gun, explosive device or substance, a conductive energy device (CED; for example, Taser), a lethal or debilitating chemical or gas, a handgun, pistol, target pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, dangerous knife, dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto or imitation firearm or weapon."
A vote to require de-escalation training for staff also passed 10-2, with Button and Chilson the votes against.
The legislature will also proceed with plans for a proposed public safety communications project that will lead to the purchase of communication towers to replace the ones the county currently leases.
"We will be able to acquire land and erect towers owned by the county... we have leases in Italy and Dundee that are expiring and our intent is to have county owned towers to take their place," said Paddock.
The current tower owners have been progressively increasing rates throughout the years and the equipment is outdated.
"This will expand coverage, while controlling costs, also replacing all the equipment that is beyond end-of-life," Paddock added.
Not related to cell phones, the towers would instead carry the radio signals for fire departments, police, EMS crews and public works.