So here’s the latest in local news. HB650, which goes into effect on December 1st limits the power of localities to ban firearms from properties owned by that locality. The important section is Section 21(b).
It is the intent of the General Assembly to prescribe a uniform system for the regulation of legally carrying a concealed handgun. To insure uniformity, no political subdivisions, boards, or agencies of the State nor any county, city, municipality, municipal corporation, town, township, village, nor any department or agency thereof, may enact ordinances, rules, or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun. A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to permit the posting of a prohibition against carrying a concealed handgun, in accordance with G.S. 14‑415.11(c), on local government
buildings, their appurtenant premises, and parks.buildings and their appurtenant premises. 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.“
My town, Garner, is currently rewriting their firearm ordinances to comply with the new laws. I have sent them all a letter asking that they just drop the ordinance and allow us to carry firearms on Town property. Here’s my letter. At the bottom of the letter are the emails for each of the Town Council and also the Town Manager. If you are a Garner resident, please make your voice heard.
Mayor Williams, Mayor Pro-Tem Behringer, Council Members Marshburn, Johns, Singleton, Kennedy & Town Manager Watkins,
Thank you for welcoming me to the Town Work Session yesterday. I wanted to make you aware of my opposition to the proposed Town ordinance 18-1 and 2. I would like to start by commending Chief Zuidema for his diligence in researching the laws as passed in HB650 that take effect on December 1st of this year. It is clear that he was careful to follow the law as written and to carefully craft a proposed ordinance that pushed Town authority as far as the State law will allow, but no further. As far as I can tell, Section 18-2 is exactly what the State law will permit. Still, I oppose this ordinance for two reasons.
Section 18-1 is currently written to comport with State law, GS 160A-189, which says
A city may by ordinance regulate, restrict, or prohibit the discharge of firearms at any time or place within the city except when used in defense of person or property or pursuant to lawful directions of law‑enforcement officers, and may regulate the display of firearms on the streets, sidewalks, alleys, or other public property. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit a city’s authority to take action under Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes. (1971, c. 698, s. 1.)
While Chief Zuidema is probably correct that it is not the best practice to discharge a firearm in defense of property, the GS160A-189 is very clear that cities may not prohibit it. Keep in mind that in cases where a citizen acts stupidly or with disregard for the safety of others, the police retain the option of charging offenders under State law.
My second objection to the proposed ordinance is that it does not solve a problem. Chief Zuidema told us all last night that his officers RARELY have to deal with any weapon issues on Town property. While we as a Town can certainly use the authority granted by law to regulate the carrying of weapons on certain Town properties, I ask you, should we? What good will it do?
In Wake County there are (as of 6-30-11) 15,372 active North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs). This is up nearly 20% from one year ago. Statewide there are 228,072 active CHPs. I have one of them. In Wake County, in the more that 15 years since the start of CHP issue on December 1, 1995 only 61 people have had their CHPs revoked or suspended. I have spoken to the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, this County’s CHP issuing authority, and they told me about how these permits were revoked or suspended. At the time I asked, the vast majority of the permits were not revoked, but temporarily suspended and eventually reinstated. Of the people who were revoked or suspended, only 7 were convicted of any crime, and only 2 were felonies. None received any jail time, just probation. From this we can easily see that the people who have Concealed Handgun Permits are among the most law abiding people on the planet. They are not the sort of people who cannot control their tempers. These are exactly the sort of people you want to have the guns, and their continued law abiding behavior is a testament to the screening process of our Sheriff.
If you were to ask any police officer, you would be told that the people who commit crimes of violence are only very rarely people with no criminal record. Criminals are criminals because they don’t follow the rules. Criminals who don’t obey big rules like don’t rob, rape, or murder will blithely ignore little rules like “don’t carry a gun past this sign.” There has never been a murder stopped because the killer saw a “no guns allowed” sign and decided not to carry his gun past the sign. No one bent upon murder will be deterred by an additional 6 months in jail on top of their Life sentence.
Here we see the problem. The only people who are permitted by law to carry a concealed handgun are so good about following the rules that they will obey the “No guns allowed” sign while the criminal will ignore them. The very citizens we trust most will be disarmed while the criminals will be armed. None of the Town properties have any security. There is no way to effectively monitor any of the properties to see who is ignoring the posted signs. There are no armed officers to protect me when I can’t protect myself, nor are there any metal detectors to stop criminals from sneaking in with their guns. I only carry a gun to protect my life or the lives of innocents. By posting Town properties as gun free, you have taken away my means of self defense without offering me any security. This is why I say that the ordinance will not solve any problem.
Here’s my proposed solution. Repeal section 18-2 entirely. Recognize that you are not in any danger from the law abiding CHP holder, and just permit him or her to carry anywhere on Town property. Since CHP holders have never been, and never will become a problem, legislating against them doesn’t make any sense.
I strongly encourage each of you to take a concealed carry class. It was apparent to me that none of you were familiar with the State laws governing firearms. While you may not have any desire to carry a firearm yourselves, knowing and understanding the laws governing firearms and self-defense will be valuable to you in your jobs as leaders in our Town government. I am available to answer any of your questions, via email, in person, or on the phone.
Sean D Sorrentino.
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