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A citizens' appeal to the Hendersonville City Council to outlaw the sale of assault weapons fizzled when the mayor and the city attorney said the state Legislature had granted local government no power to make such a law.
The city council can bar firearms on city property and can outlaw shooting inside the city limits but it can't regulate the sale of firearms, City Attorney Sam Fritschner told the council.
The Rev. Ken Kinnett led a group of about 25 people who came to the council meeting Thursday night to see the assault weapons ban. Kinnett and three other speakers cited the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School and six adults as a reason for the City Council to take action.
"We can control firearms in public buildings; we have already have an ordinance that does that," Mayor Barbara Volk told the audience. "We can pass an ordinance on firing weapons in the city and we already have. There isn't any way we can make up an ordinance that would serve the purpose that you would like."
In another matter arising from the Connecticut school shooting, the council agreed to take up during a retreat next month a council member's proposal to fund a police officer for Hendersonville Middle School.
Councilman Jerry Smith, who is a teacher at Hendersonville High School, said he had learned that the sheriff's department funds school resource officers at all three middle schools outside the city of Hendersonville in addition to the three high schools. Smith wants the City Council to fund a school resource officer at the middle school.
Mayor Barbara Volk recommended the council explore the idea in more depth during its annual planning retreat next month.
Interim City Manager Lee Galloway pointed out that the Legislature might well take up the question during its 2013 session.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this issue didn't come up in the General Assembly," said Galloway, who retired last summer as Waynesville city manager. "It's a hot topic. I wouldn't be surprised if the General Assembly didn't come up with additional funding for SROs in the high schools and middle schools as well."