Update: A Detroit councilwoman formally asked the city’s legal department Tuesday to examine the feasibility of restricting or monitoring rifles and semi-automatic firearms at Detroit hotels that face public spaces like Hart Plaza.

Councilwoman Janee’ Ayers told the Free Press Monday night that her decision to potentially explore bringing forth legislation was prompted by the Las Vegas shooting that left more than 50 people dead late Sunday.

The Sunday night tragedy unfolded when Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire from a Mandalay Bay hotel room, 32 floors above a packed, outdoor concert in Las Vegas, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more, and prompting chaos as the panicked crowd scrambled for cover. In the memo obtained by the Free Press, Ayers said she wants to explore restricting or monitoring rifles and semi-automatic weapons via registering them upon check-in at the hotels.

The memo was sent to the city’s Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell and Legislative Policy Division and referred to the Public Health and Safety Standing Committee.

Ayers said she’s received a large amount of feedback, some negative, within the past 24 hours of announcing her plan to explore council’s options.

“People used all types of words to describe this,” Ayers said during council’s Tuesday session. “Did she think about it, is it grandstanding … is it a knee jerk reaction. It is a reaction and it’s a reaction that we have not been getting on any level of government.

“When I thought about it, I thought about Sandy Hook and I thought about Orlando and I thought about South Carolina. …It shouldn’t be where massacres and mass shootings are commonplace.”

Hart Plaza was the scene of a shooting in 2004 when nine people were shot while attending the annual Detroit fireworks celebration. And one of two people shot during this year’s fireworks event was near Hart Plaza. Ayers said with the number of big events in the city such as the Jazz Fest or the Techno Fest, Detroit could find itself in a “vulnerable position.”

But if Ayers were to actually bring forth an ordinance, she would face opposition.

Just last week, the Michigan House approved a measure that would require municipalities to align their gun ordinances to state law. According to the Associated Press, it would make Michigan only the fourth state to penalize local governments for not complying. If approved by the Senate, it would effectively kill any measure a local government tried to enact that is harsher than state law.

The legislation was passed 69-39 and would let residents sue to enforce the pre-emption law or file a complaint with Michigan’s attorney general. According to the Associated Press, a judge would have to order the municipality to stop enforcing the ordinance and to amend or repeal it, leaving municipalities on the hook to pay damages, costs and attorney fees to those challenging their rules.

Attorney James J. Makowski, who has represented several open carry advocates, said Monday he believes it would be illegal under state law and would be impossible for the city to enact. Makowski also said he doesn’t believe it would prevent a tragedy.

“Legally they cannot do it because state law prevents them from regulating firearms in any way,” Makowski said. “… I would probably file a lawsuit against the city should they try to pass it.”

In light of the Las Vegas tragedy, Councilwoman Mary Sheffield proposed sponsoring a resolution, attacking the issue on a federal level to urge Congress to enact “common sense gun reform.”

“At some point, Congress needs to act,” Sheffield said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(c)2017 the Detroit Free Press

Yesterday’s story can be found below.

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Rifles might be banned from hotels in Detroit that face public spaces like Hart Plaza under a potential ordinance that is expected to be first discussed Tuesday before City Council.

Councilwoman Janee’ Ayers told the Free Press on Monday night that her decision to explore potentially bringing forth legislation was prompted by the Las Vegas shooting that left more than 50 people dead late Sunday.

Ayers said Tuesday will begin the fact finding stage on how council could legally move forward to restrict and or secure rifles and semiautomatic weapons on hotel premises.

No vote will take place on the matter Tuesday

The tragedy unfolded when Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire from a Mandalay Bay hotel room, 32 floors above a packed, outdoor concert in Las Vegas, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more, and prompting chaos as the panicked crowd scrambled for cover.

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“It’s no secret I come from the hospitality industry and so just to wake up this morning and see my brothers and sisters that work in harm’s way and the people that were there, we don’t need to have ourselves in that situation,” said Ayers, who used to work for MGM Grand Detroit. “Especially when we have so many open spaces here. We have, at the very minimum, five hotels that face our open spaces. We have events like Techno Fest … Jazz Fest and we could find ourselves in a vulnerable position. I just believe that we owe it to the citizens of Detroit and we owe it to each other to make sure we have the safest spaces possible.”

Hart Plaza was the scene of a shooting in 2004 when nine people were shot while attending the annual Detroit fireworks celebration. And one person was shot near Hart Plaza at this year’s fireworks event.

Ayers said she’s not trying to infringe upon anyone’s right to carry, and she knows there may be opposition to the proposal, but in light of the tragedy, she thinks it’s a necessary ordinance.

“The thing is, there will be hurdles that we’ll have to face to create comprehensive legislation, but, at the end of the day, I’m not saying you can’t carry rifles but what I am saying is if you’re coming to our city and you’re going to be staying in a hotel facing public spaces, especially during an event time, we need to figure out what way to create the safest space.”

Ayers said she plans to work with the city’s law department and council’s legislative policy division to determine what course of action council can take on the matter.

“I want to be very comprehensive and do my due diligence,” Ayers said. “…I’ll be working with my friends and colleagues from the hospitality industry. None of them want this on their hands. … These are the first steps. Let’s be pro-active.”

But attorney James J. Makowski, who has represented several open carry advocates, called the proposal “political grandstanding at its worst” and said it’s illegal under state law and would be impossible for the city to enact.

“Legally they cannot do it because state law prevents them from regulating firearms in any way,” Makowski said. “…I would probably file a lawsuit against the city should they try to pass it. Everyone wants to react and try to do something to fix a problem when a tragedy like this occurs but the bottom line is you’re never going to be able to stop someone from carrying.

“Certain things are just indefensible. If you ban firearms, you’re just going to take firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. There’s no solution, it makes me sad to say it but it’s true.”

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(c)2017 the Detroit Free Press

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