The 2nd Police District Advisory Council last night banned civilian members from carrying guns to its meetings. It could very well be the first time a Northeast community group adopted a weapons ban.
A new bylaw, which prohibits anyone but sworn law-enforcement officers from bringing guns to PDAC sessions, was proposed by Larry Genetti, the organization’s treasurer. The ban would extend even to those who have permits to carry weapons, he said.
The bylaw was approved 19-1. It will take effect in 30 days, Genetti said.
“We will be posting a sign on the door of the meeting room each month,” said Lynn Genetti, the PDAC’s chairwoman and Larry Genetti’s wife.
The PDAC is an umbrella organization made up of community group members, business owners and educators who regularly meet with police to exchange information about neighborhood crime trends. There are four PDACS in Northeast Philly.
Lynn Genetti said the 2nd District PDAC hasn’t had a problem with civilians coming who are packing a gun at its sessions. The police officers who attend, of course, always are armed.
On Tuesday, before the PDAC’s meeting at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, Genetti said she wanted to be proactive by bringing up the subject.
“The recent tragic events and discussions that are occurring nationally” prompted the bylaw proposal,” Lynn Genetti stated this morning in an e-mail to the Northeast Times.
She was referring the ongoing public debate precipitated by the December murders of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
Mark Mroz, the 2nd district’s former community relations officer, said today he suggested the ban. By law in Philadelphia, he said, anyone with a license to carry a weapon may do so openly. However, he said, in a phone interview this morning, such a display at a community meeting might come off as intimidating. Since nobody is forced to attend a neighborhood session, he said, the organization should be able to make its own rules concerning firearms.
Larry Genetti said the Protestant Home bans anyone but sworn law-enforcement officers from carrying firearms on its property.
“The Philadelphia Protestant Home is a private establishment and I would assume the Police Advisory Council has worked out some sort of monetary or other arrangement to hold their meetings there,” District Attorney’s spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson therefore the advisory council can ban whomever they want to from attending their meetings since it is not in a public venue.
The PDAC’s move might be unprecedented for a neighborhood group. Lynn Genetti said she is not aware of any other Northeast organizations that have banned firearms.
“This is new territory,” said Capt. Frank Palumbo, the 2nd District’s commander.
Right now, the captain said, a person with a license to carry gun may be arrested on weapons charges if the gun is brought onto school property. However, he said he believes individual property owners may ask people not to carry weapons. If the person with the gun refuses to leave, Palumbo said, the person with the gun might get arrested on a defiant trespass charge, not a weapons charge.
Although those with carry licenses aren’t breaking any laws unless they’re on school property, the captain said, “I’m aware it makes people uncomfortable. … It’s a distraction at a public meeting.”
Dolores Barbieri, president of the Somerton Civic Association, and Jack O’Hara, president of the Greater Bustleton Civic League, both said their organizations have no bylaws that ban weapons.
“It’s never come up,” Barbieri said.
“I guess it’s a sign of the times,” O’Hara said in a phone interview this morning. “I don’t know how the general membership would feel about this,” he said, but added he planned to discuss it with board members tonight.
GBCL meetings are held at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union on Red Lion Road.
“I’m just going to assume firearms are not permitted at a bank or bank campus,” O’Hara said.
All groups should check on what’s permitted on the properties that host their meetings, Lynn Genetti said in her e-mail
“A responsible organization should know all of the rules/regulations for the facility they are using,” she stated.
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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