Last night the Hickory City Council was presented with two proposals regarding concealed carry in its parks. From the official agenda:
Ordinance Amending Hickory City Code Chapter 21, Section 21-13, “Use of
Weapons” Regarding Firearms in City Parks (Exhibit XIII.A.1.)
A new state law passed in the last General Assembly Session will require the
City of Hickory to amend its ordinance which bans firearms in city parks. Session
Law 2011-268, which became effective December 1, 2011, amends Article 14,
Chapter 14 of the General Statutes which pertains to various laws regarding the
right to own, possess, or carry a firearm in North Carolina. Staff presented two
concealed handgun permit ordinance options to the Parks and Recreation
Commission at their November 8, 2011 meeting. The first ordinance, which Staff
recommended to be endorsed by the Parks and Recreation Commission,
prohibits concealed handguns in certain specified park areas. The second
ordinance simply complies with state law and allows concealed handguns in all
park areas. Six (6) Commission Members voted to endorse and recommend to
City Council the first ordinance option. Four (4) Commission Members voted to
endorse and recommend to City Council, the second ordinance option. Staff
recommends approval of the local ordinance which prohibits concealed
handguns in certain park areas.
While normally city councils give great weight to the recommendations of their staff and usually go along with them, last night the Hickory City Council listened to its constituents and voted for the second ordinance which simply complies with state law and allows concealed handguns in all park areas. They approved concealed carry in parks by a 6-1 vote.
According to reports in the Hickory Record, the overwhelming consensus of those who spoke on the ordinances last night was in favor of unrestricted concealed carry. When asked by Mayor Rudy Wright for a show of hands, 40 people were in favor of unrestricted concealed carry while only 2 in the audience were in favor of restrictions.
Council member Jill Patton “personally opposes firearms. I don’t like what concealed carry says about our society.” But Patton said she respects the wishes of her constituents, and a clear majority of responses she had about Tuesday’s public hearing favored no restrictions on concealed carry permittees.
Hank Guess, a council member who once was a conceal carry permit instructor, said the statistics cited by proponents for Option Two are valid. Council member Sally Fox said she is opposed to firearms in city parks and Hickory does not have a big problem with crime in the parks.
“I feel no safer if someone else is carrying a gun,” she said. Fox was the lone dissenting vote in the motion to conform Hickory’s firearms ordinance with the state law on parks.
It is good to see council members who are personally opposed to firearms like Jill Patton actually listen to their constituents. As I said in the headline, kudos to the Hickory City Council. Hopefully more North Carolina cities will look to the example of Hickory than to that of Winston-Salem or Asheville.