Weapons ban possible

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GATESVILLE – In a move that will most likely prompt a reaction from Second Amendment proponents, the Gates County Board of Commissioners voted here last week to ban concealed weapons at the county owned Community Center.

Using a local government loophole in a new state law (enacted Dec. 1, 2011) that allows those having a concealed weapons permit to carry firearms onto state parks property as well as at parks and recreation facilities, the county commissioners voted unanimously to ask county school officials to amend their weapons ban policy to include the Community Center. That county owned facility, which adjoins Gates County High School, is used by GCHS students and staff.

Community Center Director Lulu Eure said she was concerned over the recently enacted state law that allows concealed weapons at parks and recreation facilities.

“I have a problem with that,” said Eure. “When you have athletic events that sometimes get a little out of hand (emotionally), I certainly don’t need to have guns being on our property.”

Eure said there was an amendment within the new state law that allows county government to prohibit concealed weapons at such facilities.

“Because of our situation with our (community center) land joining the school system’s land at the high school, they (school system) already have a policy that bans weapons, with the exception of law enforcement officers and the shooting team,” she pointed out.

Eure suggested that the county should ask the Gates County School system to amend their policy to extend the weapons ban to include the Community Center.

“I think that will cover us,” Eure said. “(The way the state law currently reads) I can’t tell those with a concealed weapons permit that they cannot bring weapons onto our grounds, I can’t stop them.”

“Before this new law, if an entity posted a no concealed weapons placard, then weapons were prohibited,” Gates County Manager Toby Chappell explained to the board. “However the way this new law is written, the entity has to be proactive to exclude weapons from being on their premises.”

Chappell said his recommendation would be that since the county school system already has a policy in place to prohibit weapons, the county could piggyback on that policy. He said that policy could be amended to include, “on school property, to include the Gates County Community Center.”

“With that we would have a policy in place, which is what the statute requires, and therefore weapons would be excluded,” Chappell said. “We cannot modify their policy; we can only recommend to the board of education that they amend their policy to include the Community Center. That does give them the right to legislate on our property.”

If the local school board does accept the commissioners’ suggestion, the county will be responsible for placing “No Weapons Allowed” signage at the Community Center.

On a motion from Commissioner John Hora and seconded by Commission Vice Chairman Henry Jordan, the commissioners voted in favor to suggest to the Gates County Board of Education to modify their policy to include the Community Center as property where no concealed weapons are allowed.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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