08-10 elkhart guns-01

Code Enforcement Officer Biff Knight removes the signs banning the carrying of firearms into Elkhart City Hall. Those with a license to carry are now allowed to be armed inside the public area of the building.

Those carrying firearms legally no longer need to check their weapons at the door when entering Elkhart City Hall.

On Friday, Elkhart Mayor Jennifer McCoy and City Administrator Judith Cantrell ended the city's ban on firearms inside the building, arguing it was unconstitutional.

“In Elkhart, we are not going to prohibit licensed carriers from bringing their firearms inside the public area of City Hall,” Cantrell told the Herald-Press Friday. “We can definitely restrict weapons beyond the glass partition, but we will not restrict public space.”

Neither Cantrell nor McCoy could say when the ban took effect.

City leaders had considered the issue for several weeks, Cantrell said, but other city matters, including the upcoming budget, were more pressing.

The decision comes in the wake of two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left more than 30 dead and dozens injured.

Cantrell said the change was based on constitutional principle, not personal belief.

“I am a licensed weapons holder,” she said. “...However, I cannot speak for every tax-paying resident in Elkhart.”

Elkhart Mayor Jennifer McCoy told the Herald-Press she supports the decision.

“My employees, and Elkhart residents, should be able to protect themselves in a safe manner,” she said.

The firearms ban will continue for city employees who are on-the-clock.

Current policy states city employees may not carry firearms – without the city secretary's authorization. That policy, McCoy said, was enacted during former City Secretary Carla Sheridan's tenure. Sheridan was terminated by the city council June 4.

“That policy is one of many we will be changing,” Cantrell said. “We are giving the decision to the council as a whole, instead of just one person.”