Last year we North Carolinian gun owners noticed something strange. The NC State Fair was posted against carrying firearms and the police set up metal detectors to keep guns out. The problem is that the law they were using to justify the gun ban had been amended under H937. Guns were only ever banned at the State Fair because they charged admission, which legally made it an “assembly,” and a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess a firearm. GRNC promised not to let this slide this year.
TROXLER TO POST NC STATE FAIR
IN VIOLATION OF LAW
At the request of North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, GRNC representatives today met with the commissioner and his legal counsel after his police chief for the state fairgrounds, Joel Keith, began telling people the North Carolina State Fair would be posted against all firearms, including lawful concealed carry.AlthoughTroxler is not particularly anti-gun, he seems unwilling to take responsibility for doing the right thing, saying instead that as a member of the executive branch, he cannot interpret statutes and must follow the interpretations given to him (more on that shortly).Consequently, the commissioner and GRNC were unable toachieve a satisfactory resolution of the problem. GRNC is now preparing a filing for a temporary restraining order, through its sister non-profit, Rights Watch International, to prevent the fair, which starts in just over two weeks, from being posted.ORIGINS OF THE PROBLEM
Before passage of House Bill 937, which became effective on October 1, 2013, guns were prohibited at “assemblies of people for which admission is charged.” Since that section of NCGS 14-269.3 was changed to permit carry by those with concealed handgun permits, however, only private property owners hosting such assemblies may prohibit concealed carry. The state fairgrounds, of course, are not private property.
Although NCGS 14-269.3 specifically opens carry to permit-holders, Troxler claims “vague” language in the statutes enables the state to post under NCGS 14-269(a2), which says the state’s general prohibition on concealed weapons, “does not apply to a person who has a concealed handgun permit issued in accordance with Article 54B of this Chapter, has a concealed handgun permit considered valid under G.S. 14-415.24, or is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to G.S. 14-415.25, provided the weapon is a handgun, is in a closed compartment or container within the person’s locked vehicle, and the vehicle is in a parking area that is owned or leased by State government.”
- The section above merely enables permit-holders to keep guns in closed compartments of locked motor vehicles in state properties where guns are prohibited. It does not create a prohibition in itself.
- In fact, NCGS 14-269.4 lists the specific state properties – such as the State Capitol, Governor’s Executive Mansion” and courthouses – where guns are prohibited. That section does not include the state fairgrounds.
- Even in the exceedingly unlikely event a court agreed that Troxler is allowed to post the fair, nothing requires him to do so. In short, his rationalization that he is just following what he has to do is false. Troxler is choosing to prohibit lawful concealed handgun permit-holders from protecting their families not only at the fair, but also in the parking lots outside the fair.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
As we’ve seen time and again, gun-free zones are dangerous places for law-abiding citizens. No family should be rendered entirely helpless should an event occur such as what happened at theWisconsin State Fair in 2011. Dozens of teenagers and young adults attacked peaceful fairgoers as they left the fair. Eleven people were injured and thirty-one arrests were made. Criminals are always empowered when they know that their intended victims are disarmed. Posting against law-abiding gun owners is equivalent to a wink and a nod to the criminals who would prey on the now-defenseless families. Not an acceptable plan, Commissioner Troxler.
Expect the usual suspects to wail and gnash their teeth, but the reality is that there are now no laws against CHP holders carrying handguns at the State Fair, which starts in two weeks. The funny part is that according to my reading of the law, there’s no requirement that the CHP holders conceal their handguns. If you have a CHP, you can Open Carry the State Fair.
GRNC told Commissioner Troxler that he didn’t have a leg to stand on. They told him that if he forced the issue it would be played out loudly and publicly. Now he’s about to find out.
Click this link and send some email to Commissioner Troxler to let him know you want him to follow the law. Also make sure to give him a phone call tomorrow. Politicians and bureaucrats like phone calls, right?