Police Advisory Council bans firearms at its meetings

The ban ap­plies to ci­vil­ian mem­bers of the 2nd PDAC. Cops will con­tin­ue to carry fire­arms at the monthly meet­ings.

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 jloftus@bsmphilly.com

Ques­tion for our read­ers: How do you feel about com­munity groups ban­ning weapons at their meet­ings? Send your com­ments to jloftus@bsmphilly.com. Write Fire­arms in your e-mail’s sub­ject field.

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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