When the new omnibus gun laws went into effect on December 1st, one of the major changes was a provision that allowed concealed handgun permit holders to carry concealed in state, county, and municipal parks. An exception was made to allow cities and counties to continue to forbid concealed carry in recreational facilities which the statute defined as “includes only the following: a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, and an athletic facility.” The amendment with this weakening provision was proposed by Rep. David Guice (R-Brevard).
Many cities throughout North Carolina have chosen to amend their ordinances which previously had prohibited all firearms in city parks so as to continue to ban firearms in recreational facilities. Those that have not made changes will, for now, allow concealed carry in all parks and all facilities within the park.
Some cities have stayed close to the meaning of the law if they made changes and just as many have not. Probably the most egregious misreading of the law is in the city of Winston-Salem where they defined an athletic facility to include greenways, lakes, and walking trails. According to published reports, City Attorney Angela Carmon “said in public meetings that the state law did not define “athletic facilities.” The resolution approving the ordinance change is explicit in saying that they are defining the law as they saw fit.
Closer to me, the City of Asheville amended their ordinance on November 22nd as part of their consent agenda. While not going as far as Winston-Salem, it is obvious from staff reports that they made it as strict as possible.
This action complies with the City Council Strategic Operating Plan for Asheville to be safe and secure
• Continues, to the fullest extent allowed by law, the prohibition of concealed
handguns on City property.
• Potential difficulty in enforcement.
Asheville defines recreational facilities to include:
Recreational Facility means a playground, athletic field, swimming pool, or other recreation or athletic facility, owned or operated by the City of Asheville, together with any appurtenant premises including, but not limited to, locker rooms, seating areas, concession areas, enclosed areas, parking areas.
I think adding parking areas to the list of recreational facilities is somewhat problematic and could go beyond what is meant by the law. Nonetheless, state law does allow a concealed carry holder to leave their firearm in a locked car or locked area within the car.
Grass Roots North Carolina which was one of the prime movers behind getting carry in parks is not happy with how municipalities are trying to bend the law. An alert sent out tonight says they will be initiating legal action and are seeking plaintiffs in the cities of Winston-Salem, Kernersville, Greenville, and Smithfield. They will be adding more cities to that list as needed.
Of course, the gun prohibitionists at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (sic) are pushing cities to go even further in their defiance of state law. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times:
They have been under criticism from North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, which is urging local governments to ban concealed handguns at athletic facilities, a move Asheville has made already.
“You’ve got a lot of intensity (at these events), a lot of emotion and anger, and one or more people are carrying a concealed weapon,” Roxane Kolar, the group’s executive director, said Monday. “That’s just a bad recipe.”
Asheville, and at least 19 other local governments, already have responded by passing laws banning concealed handguns at athletic fields, playgrounds and recreation areas, such as swimming pools.
I predict that cities that have played by the rules and are conservative in how they define recreational facilities will be OK and those cities like Winston-Salem who have played fast and loose with state law will be slapped down. In the end, the taxpayers of those cities will be the ones footing the bill and, in the meantime, they will be ones who will be left to the mercy of criminals. The other prediction I will make is that the blood won’t be running in the parks other than for skinned knees and assorted athletic injuries.