Private weapons – Public places

Published 9:49 am Monday, June 24, 2013

AHOSKIE – There’s no opposition by members of the Ahoskie Town Council regarding an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights.

However, council members do favor restricting those who openly carry or have concealed weapons within a municipal park, areas often full of children.

At their June 11 meeting, the Ahoskie Town Council voted to hold a public hearing that may completely delete sections 3 and 4 of Chapter 46 of the town’s ordinances and replace it with language that prohibits the presence of weapons within town-owned parks.

Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond reminded council members that in September of 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly modified a state law dealing with guns in public parks and other public places controlled by municipalities.

“This was an issue that came up as a result of something that happened out at the park (Ahoskie Creek Recreational Complex) about three or four weeks ago,” Hammond said. “There was an individual out there that was carrying a pistol strapped to his waist, which is not illegal since he did not have a concealed weapon.

“There are some state laws that have been changed in the last few years dealing with where and where you cannot regulate weapons, where people can and cannot bring those weapons,” Hammond added. “The majority of what can be regulated by a municipality has to be posted as an ordinance.”

Hammond presented a similar ordinance adopted by city officials in Chapel Hill. He said the Ahoskie’s attorney and police chief have looked at and approve of this particular ordinance.

“What we are presenting to you is this ordinance. We will delete the current sections three and four of Chapter 46 of our town’s ordinance and replace it with this, which will restrict the carrying of concealed or open-carry weapons in particular areas of the town,” Hammond said.

Hammond said a public hearing is required since this undertaking changes the existing town ordinance. If adopted after the public hearing, Hammond said the policy will be posted to the town’s website.

“I want to be clear on this, is this (ordinance change) going to prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon or any weapon,” asked Councilwoman Linda Blackburn.

“This will prohibit a person from carrying any type of weapon onto particular areas in town, including our parks,” Hammond answered. “You can’t stop a person from taking his or her weapon and placing it in the trunk of their vehicle.”

“What I want to stop is a person potentially placing the weapon in the hands of a child,” Blackburn stressed.

Another proposed ordinance, one that Ahoskie currently does not have, deals with graffiti. Hammond said having such an ordinance will allow the town’s police department to enforce such regulations.

On a motion from Councilman Malcolm Copeland and a second from Blackburn, the council set a public hearing on both ordinances for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 9 (their next regularly scheduled meeting). The motion was approved without objection.

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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