Greensboro Backs Down But Will Durham

Grass Roots North Carolina and Gunowners of America sent a demand letter to the cities of Greensboro and Durham on Tuesday. It demanded they rescind or change the determination the firearms-related businesses were not essential. They had until noon today to make the change or they would face court action.

Yesterday, Mayor Nancy Vaughan of Greensboro informed GRNC and GOA that she wrongly determined gun stores and ranges as “non-essential”. Now it remains to be seen if Mayor Steve Schewel of Durham will do likewise.

Picture courtesy of Carolina Peacemaker

On a related note, I got a response from Buncombe County yesterday for why they didn’t include gun stores and ranges in their list of essential businesses. Buncombe County felt that since state statute preempted them from closing them during periods of emergency that it would have been superfluous to have listed them as essential.

The release from GRNC on Vaughan’s retreat is below:

The mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, has reversed herself and now agrees that gun stores within city limits can remain open, after being contacted by Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) and The Mayor had told the media that gun stores were not “essential” businesses, despite the fact that the city’s “stay-at-home” order stated otherwise.

This reversal comes after a Cease and Desist letter from GOA and GRNC urging Mayor Nancy Vaughan to correct her interpretation, or face legal action. Mayor Vaughan informed GOA and GRNC via email that she was incorrect in her interpretation.

While GOA and GRNC are thankful for the clarification, both organizations still look forward to seeing a public announcement by Mayor Vaughan to let the citizens of the Gate City know they can lawfully visit and purchase firearms and ammunition from gun stores during the “stay-at-home” order.

Likewise, Wake County, North Carolina has also reopened its gun stores after a similar letter sent by GRNC and GOA,  which also sent letters Guildford County and the city of Durham urging the localities to ensure gun stores remain open or face legal action.  

Elsewhere, when contacted by legal counsel for GRNC and GOA, the attorney for Orange County disavowed any statements previously made, saying its language would protect firearms businesses, and Buncombe County advises that although they did not specifically list firearm businesses as “essential,” the county will follow state guidelines which protect firearm businesses provided they follow social distancing requirements.

Maybe I Missed Something – Aren’t Newspapers Supposed To Support The First Amendment?

When I grew up in the 60s and 70s in Greensboro, North Carolina, our local newspaper, the Greensboro Daily News, supported free speech. It had editorialized against the Speaker Ban Law which banned anyone with Communist Party connections from speaking on a state university campus. It featured great editorial writers like Jonathan Yardley and Edwin Yoder who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize later in their careers. The editor was Bill Snider who would get crosses burned in his yard for his support of civil rights.

So you can imagine my feeling when I read one of their most recent editorials arguing against free speech in the name of safety. It began:

Imagine a gun you could build in the privacy of your home in much the same way that you assembled model cars and planes as a youth.

A few clicks of a mouse and — voila! — you’re in business.

We have the know-how. We have the technology. And we should have the common sense not to use it.

You know where this is going. The unsigned editorial in the News & Record (combination of the old Daily News and Greesboro Record) was applauding the move by Attorney General Josh Stein (D-NC) to join the lawsuit in Washington State seeking to prevent Defense Distributed from publishing its files of code for 3-D printing and CNC machining.

No matter that these have been on the Internet since at least 2013 and thousands of us have copies of those files on our computers. No matter that it is 100% legal to make your own firearm so long as you are not a prohibited person and it is not a fully automatic firearm. Of course, they didn’t tell you that part in the editorial. Nor did they say that it would cheaper and easier to go to Lowe’s for parts and Harbor Freight for tools to make your own more substantial firearm.

As I commented on the story on their website:

When a news organization ostensibly dedicated to a free press AND to free speech editorializes against speech it doesn’t like – and make no mistake computer code is speech – it sets a horrendous precendent. What speech will you next want to subject to prior restraint? Will it be conservative speech by an African-American like Mark Robinson? Or will it be something said by a pro-life teen?

Where does it stop? You don’t have to like what is said and you can argue against the ideas contained in that speech. However, in our somewhat free society it should and must be allowed.

It is a bad precedent for any news organization to argue for censorship of free speech. The Greensboro Daily News and Record editorial staff ought rightly to be ashamed of themselves.

Gun Show Weekend

I went to the semiannual Greensboro Gun Show this weekend with my friend Jeff (Olivia Grace’s paternal grandfather).

Before the gun show itself, we met for breakfast with Doc Wesson at a local pancake house. Doc aka The Podfather has been podcasting at The Gun Nation since 2007.  We had a great time talking about guns, podcasting, blogging, industry, flying, etc. I think we all had a great time and it was a great way to start a trip to the gun show.

Doc, for business reasons, guards his identity. Given that pictures of Doc don’t exist some people might assume he is a phantom. I can assure you that is not the case. I snapped this quick picture of Doc while he wasn’t looking. It didn’t come out quite how I expected!

As for the gun show itself, it had a moderate crowd. There were a goodly number of people but the aisles weren’t so crowded that you couldn’t walk down them. In general, there weren’t as many surplus dealers as I expected, there were a number of private sellers with tables selling their hunting rifles and shotguns, and more knife dealers than I expected.

Nate and Nate from N82 Tactical were there. I ended up with one of their IWB holsters for my Ruger LC9s Pro. Time will tell but it looks like a very comfortable holster.

I also came home with a 1200 ft. roll of 550 O.D. green paracord and a box of  cast lead 105 grain .38 caliber bullets. I hope to get those loaded up to use for plinking. I did look at an Ithaca 51 with 2 extra barrels but passed on that.

The other thing on my want list was an Anderson Manufacturing AR15 upper. I found a few but prices ranged from $80 to $120. Given they are selling in the $50 range on the Internet I passed on this.

We finished the day by having a family dinner at Clark’s BBQ in Kernersville. As their T-shirts say, they are centrally located between Dollywood and Myrtle Beach.

Oh, Noes! A Gun At The Grocery Store

Lisa Fullington is outraged, outraged I say, because she saw a man carrying at a grocery store in Greensboro, NC. She is even madder that the store refuses to post the store against carry.

The store is question is a Harris-Teeter grocery store located in one of the nicer areas of Greensboro. I’ve shopped at this store many a time and affectionately call it the Taj MahTeeter because it is so large and so upscale. It is located in a shopping area that has REI, Ann Taylor, Talbot’s, and Brooks Brothers among other upscale stores.

“I don’t think you need to bring your gun into a grocery store, a shopping center, and I’m a little peeved that Harris Teeter can’t put up a sign that says no arms, concealed or otherwise, allowed in the store,” Fullington said Wednesday in her home explaining that she has decided to no longer shop with the grocery store chain. It’s an about-face for a woman who’s been a Harris Teeter faithful for years.

“I’m not joking, I’m not going there. I think it’s dangerous to shop there,” she said incredibly. “I just can’t imagine that they want people in their stores, it’s dangerous! I mean, those people, I don’t know who is trained and who isn’t”

And Lee Atkinson is fighting right along with her.

“It’s a place I go all the time, so I can’t solve all the places where people are with guns but I can start where I shop,” Atkinson said.

This past summer, lawmakers in Raleigh expanded the concealed carry law which now allows guns in bars, restaurants and other areas unless the owner forbids it.

“I don’t want to be in a place where people are packing a lot of guns. I don’t want the possibility of bullets whizzing past my head,” added Atkinson.

I am reminded of the quote attributed to bank robber Willie Sutton who when asked why he robbed banks said, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.”  I wonder if Lisa Fullington and Lee Atkinson realize upscale areas make great targets for thieves “because that’s where the money is.”

You can see their little hissy fit here. Bob Owens calls them “two self-important, self-absorbed gun haters” and I have to agree. My consolation is that I won’t run into them when I’m in Greensboro and going to the Taj MahTeeter for my favorite Utz Extra Dark Special pretzels.

Hey, Felons!

Do you have a “hot” gun that you need to ditch?

Did that no-good two-timing son of a bitch give you a gun to “hold” for him while he did his time?

Do you live in the Greensboro, North Carolina area?

Well then, the Greensboro Police Department have a deal for you! They’ll take that gun off your hands with no questions asked. They will even do it anonymously! The only thing they won’t do is give you any money for it. They’re calling it their “Safe Surrender” program which means you ain’t going to Central Prison.

Details below in the GPD press release:

Greensboro Police Offer Two-Day Weapon “Safe Surrender”

GREENSBORO, NC (January 7, 2013)

On January 11 and 12, the Greensboro Police Department is offering gun owners another means of removing unwanted firearms from their homes. Police employees will be accepting handguns, rifles,
and shotguns at three Greensboro churches Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Participating churches are:
Saint Matthew’s United Methodist Church at 600 East Florida Street•
Bessemer United Methodist Church at 3015 East Bessemer Avenue•
Christ Wesleyan Church at 2400 South Holden Road.

The “Safe Surrender” event was inspired by Councilwoman T. Diane Bellamy-Small as a way for city residents to reflect upon the tragic events in Newtown,Conn. “Although we are saddened by the impetus for this ‘Safe Surrender’, we welcome the opportunity to take weapons off the street,” said Deputy Chief Anita Holder. This is not a buy-back program. No cash will be given in exchange for eapons. Anyone age 18 and above can turn in a weapon.

Weapons can be surrendered anonymously. There is no limit to the number of firearms a person can surrender. Once a weapon is surrendered, it will not be returned. Weapons should be unloaded and cleared when they are turned in. A police employee will receive each weapon and render it safe. Ammunition may also be surrendered. Firearms will be checked to determine if they have been reported lost or stolen. Police will make every effort to return lost/stolen weapons to their rightful owners. All other weapons will be destroyed. “This two-day program supplements our existing method of taking unwanted weapons off the street,” explained Holder.

At any time throughout the year, Greensboro residents can call the non-emergency line, 373-2222, to coordinate to turn in an unwanted firearm. Citizens who are not comfortable handling a firearm may find this to be a useful option. A sworn or non-sworn member of the Greensboro Police Department will pick up the weapon from the owner’s home.

Far be it from me to accuse the Greensboro Police Department of racism or anything but I find it strange that the three churches mentioned just happen to be in areas that heavily populated by minorities.

St. Matthew’s United Methodist was, according to their church history, the first Methodist Church in Greensboro established for African-Americans. It is located in a census tract that is over 95% minority. Bessemer United Methodist is located in a census tract that is 87.5% minority and bills itself as the Triad’s Native American Church. It’s pastor, Rev. Joel Locklear, is a Lumbee Indian. Finally, Christ Wesleyan Church is located in a census tract that is over 66% minority.

So why not hold it at Temple Emanuel or Our Lady of Grace or even New Garden Friends Meeting?


Taking Liberties With The Law

When the North Carolina General Assembly passed the omnibus HB 650 which contained many changes in the state’s gun laws, they included a provision that would allow concealed carry in state, municipal, and county parks. However, thanks to an amendment by former Rep. David Guice (R-Transylvania) they allowed cities and counties to continue to ban concealed carry at recreational facilities if they so chose. Guice justified the exemption for recreational facilities by saying “I’ve seen firsthand the violence on the Little League field.”

From Section 21.b.:

A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to prohibit, by posting, the carrying of a concealed handgun on municipal and county recreational facilities that are specifically identified by the unit of local government. If a unit of local government adopts such an ordinance with regard to recreational facilities, then the concealed handgun permittee may, nevertheless, secure the handgun in a locked vehicle within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area within or on the motor vehicle. For purposes of this section, the term “recreational facilities” includes only the following: a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, and an athletic facility.

As can be seen above, the law was very specific as to what constituted a “recreational facility”. Moreover, the prohibition applies only to that facility and not to the park within it resides.

Unfortunately, certain cities within North Carolina have started to take liberties with this exemption.The latest to do so is the City of Greensboro. The Greensboro City Council will consider an ordinance amending their law on Tuesday. According to the supporting memoranda from city staff, they are construing the exemption to include the entire park in which the recreational facility is located. The ordinance itself is somewhat vague though given how it is presented by city staff I think it may be reasonable to expect they mean the whole park.

Grass Roots North Carolina has issued an alert on the changes in Greensboro.

Like some others, Greensboro is being rather creative in their reading of a clearly laid out law. The ordinance they will be considering Tuesday night takes the following interesting liberties with the new law:

  1. It bans whole parks which *contain* recreational facilities;
  2. Tries to say the legislature “changed” the word “parks” to “recreational facilities;” and
  3. It fails to specifically name the “recreational facilities” where guns are banned.

If we were too polite with the above, let us be clearer. These are the ways they will be BREAKING THE LAW if allowed to go forward with this plan. Now in the creative logic they are applying in reaching these conclusions, they may not even be aware that they will be breaking the law. It is up to you to make them aware of this.

They are asking for people to contact Greensboro City Council to make their displeasure known and the link above has a pre-written message.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the actions of the Greensboro City Council. I grew up in the city and it has changed significantly since I left it after college. Though I still own the house I grew up in, the author Thomas Wolfe was right when he said you can’t go home again.