2016-09-22 / Front Page

Crossing guard fights for right to open carry

By Kelly Krager

HARBOR BEACH — A crossing guard who works for the City of Harbor Beach is fighting a recent decision by city council that bans open carry of a firearm while on the job.

Casey Armitage, who aids students crossing the intersection of 5th and Trescott streets on their way to and from school, believes she should be able to protect the children from more than speeding vehicles and careless drivers.

The council voted 5-0 during its Sept. 6 regular meeting to update the city personnel handbook to include the open carry prohibition. The handbook previously prohibited concealed carry while on duty.

Mayor Gary Booms said the decision not only protects the city from liability, it protects children and people on the street from being casualties in an accident caused by an armed civilian who does not have training or experience equal to what police officers possess.

During council’s Sept. 6 meeting, Armitage, who has a license to carry a concealed pistol, argued against the open carry ban. The council asked her to submit data supporting her opinion, and it would consider taking another look at the rule.

Armitage not only contacted other local government offices, she also appeared on a YouTube video with The FireArmGuy. During the five-minute episode, Armitage argues that she should be allowed to fight back if the terror that has struck schools throughout the country visits her hometown.

“When seconds count, police officers take minutes to get there. And, I’m sorry, but when something is happening, my first reaction is not to pick up my cell phone. I’m not thinking about making a call. I’m thinking about taking action,” she said in the video.

During Monday’s regular city council meeting, Armitage told the board she contacted several municipalities to ask about their open carry policies and found many do not address the issue. Among those municipalities are the City of Caseville, Cass City, Elkton, Port Austin and Owendale, she said.

“None of these municipalities are reporting insurance rate hikes. No one from any of these other municipalities had ever thought of making further restrictions on the law already provided by the state and federal government. So, I say to you the council, you prove to me that the liability insurance will be affected. I have found no cause for concern,” she said.

She said she found most local governments allow employees who have a valid CPL to carry a firearm.

“To the best of my knowledge, Harbor Beach is the only municipality in Huron County restricting its employees’ lawful carry,” Armitage said.

Booms said the city is researching gun laws, but the policy is unlikely to be changed in the near future. He added that the local municipalities that do not have an open carry policy might simply have not had to consider the situation.

“Just because certain municipalities don’t have a gun policy doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking of one. Now that this has been brought to light, they might adopt one,” he said. “… Once it’s brought up and people know about it, they might change their policies.”

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