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Boonsboro bans guns in public

June 07, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Guns are prohibited from public places in the Town of Boonsboro, after the Town Council voted Monday night to address an "oversight" in its laws.

The emergency ordinance, which bans guns from public places, becomes law immediately, "because it is felt that this ordinance needs to be in effect tonight," Town Manager John Kendall said.

Council members unanimously approved the measure.

One resident asked if the law would prohibit members of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from bringing guns to a rally the organization has planned for July 9 at Shafer Memorial Park.

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Kendall said it would.

Kendall said before the meeting that the timing of the ordinance's passage and the announcement about two weeks ago of the KKK's plans to rally are "strictly coincidental."

Resident Virgil Carson told the council and Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman he was concerned about the upcoming rally.

"This KKK meeting on July 9, I think it leaves a black eye on the city, the city of Boonsboro," Carson said after the council meeting.

Carson suggested Boonsboro plan an alternative event, such as a jazz festival, so people "see that we are a liberal, progressive community, instead of a town that condones the Klan."

Kauffman said he believes a brainstorming session to discuss an alternative event already has been planned at Mt. Nebo United Methodist Church.

Kendall said he plans to meet Wednesday with representatives from the Washington County's Sheriff's Department, the Maryland State Police and the Homeland Security Department to discuss security at the Klan rally.

According to Kendall, the law would prohibit anyone other than a law enforcement agent from carrying a gun, ammunition or other device intended to inflict or threaten physical harm within 100 yards of a park or public place of assembly.

The law carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, Kendall said.

Sportsmen's groups and gun safety education classes could qualify for exemptions under the law, Kendall said.

The town had no previous gun prohibition, Kendall said before the meeting.

"It was kind of an oversight, really, and of course, Boonsboro being as quiet as it is, we never needed it before. But you never know these days," Kendall said.

Kendall said the ordinance's passage was spurred by the town's preparations to re-establish its own police force.

The council also passed an ordinance dealing with the appearance of residential properties.

"We want to make sure we put some teeth in them, so our police can enforce them," Kendall said before the meeting.

The town's police force will go into action July 1.

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