By March, an ordinance banning the discharge of firearms in the city of Alton may go into effect.
During their latest meeting on Tuesday, city commissioners discussed an ordinance that would prohibit the illegal discharge of firearms within city limits.
According to City Manager Jorge Arcaute, the ordinance will be going through two more readings taking place during their meetings next month before the city takes any action on it during their February 19 meeting.
The ordinance will mainly target those who discharge firearms in celebration during New Years-related festivities.
“We receive several complaints about that every year,” Arcaute said. “If you stepped out anywhere in any city in the Valley at midnight on New Year’s Eve you will hear firearms being discharged. You hear stories of bullets going in through windows or rooms; this is a PR effort more than anything to change behavior.”
According to the initial draft of the ordinance that was presented Tuesday, a firearm may be discharged if it is in the defense of home or person. Police officers as well as county, state and federal peace officers are exempt from this ordinance.
Those who discharge a firearm within city limits will receive a fine of up to $500.
“Everyone knows they should not be doing it but they do it anyway. This law puts a spine to it,” Arcaute said. “This is kind of like how everyone accepted smoking in public spaces until laws were made to prohibit them and it changed the tide on it. I think most people tolerate it but if you make a law against it, you will change people’s minds on it.”
The ordinance also calls for the prohibition of carrying a concealed handgun inside city hall and other city-owned premises.
According to Arcaute, that part of the ordinance is an addition to a 2016 ordinance that prevented open carry in city hall after the state passed an open carry law that allowed citizens to carry handguns in public if they had a license for it.
With this addition, Arcaute said the city will put up signage reminding citizens of the city’s open carry laws.
“It’s a safety concern as this building houses the police department and serves as a courtroom,” Arcaute said. “So it wouldn’t be proper if someone walked in with a handgun.”