2nd PDAC bans guns from meetings

In what might be a first for a North­east com­munity group, the 2nd Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil has banned ci­vil­ian mem­bers from car­ry­ing guns to its meet­ings.

A new bylaw, which pro­hib­its any­one but sworn law-en­force­ment of­ficers from bring­ing guns to PDAC ses­sions, was in­tro­duced by Larry Genetti, the ad­vis­ory coun­cil’s treas­urer, and ad­op­ted by a 19-1 vote at its Feb. 12 meet­ing. It will take ef­fect in 30 days, and ex­tends even to those who have li­censes to carry weapons, he 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. PDAC mem­ber­ship and meet­ings are not open to the gen­er­al pub­lic.  

Lynn Genetti said the 2nd Dis­trict PDAC hasn’t had a prob­lem with ci­vil­ians bring­ing guns to its ses­sions, but 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 last week in an e-mail to the North­east Times. 

She was re­fer­ring to 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 Feb. 13 that he sug­ges­ted the weapons 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, 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.

The 2d PDAC’s meet­ings are held at the Phil­adelphia Prot­est­ant Home, and that fa­cil­ity bans any­one ex­cept sworn law-en­force­ment of­ficers from car­ry­ing fire­arms on its prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to Larry Genetti.

“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,” said Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s spokes­wo­man Tasha Jamer­son. There­fore, she said, ad­vis­ory coun­cil lead­ers 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 any kind of 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 a 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, that per­son might be 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.”

Mike Thaete, pres­id­ent of the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil said his or­gan­iz­a­tion does not ad­dress car­ry­ing fire­arms to the group’s ses­sions.

“It’s nev­er been an is­sue,” he wrote in a Feb. 17 e-mail to the North­east Times.” 

Both Dolores Bar­bieri, pres­id­ent of the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation, and Jack O’Hara, pres­id­ent of the Great­er Bustleton Civic League, said their groups do not have bylaws ban­ning weapons.

“It’s nev­er come up,” Bar­bieri said.

“I guess it’s a sign of the times,” O’Hara said in a phone in­ter­view. “I don’t know how the gen­er­al mem­ber­ship would feel about this,” he said, but ad­ded he planned to dis­cuss it with board mem­bers. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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