Board approves changes to concealed carry laws

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pending approval by Rowan County commissioners, the stickers prohibiting the concealed carry of firearms in county buildings by licensed individuals will be peeled off.
At the same time, signs will be erected by the county’s parks and recreation department stipulating those licensed individuals can carry concealed firearms in parks outside the boundaries of school-related events.
The nine-member county planning board engaged in a lengthy discussion Monday on whether to tweak local ordinances to fall in line with state laws liberalizing statutes regarding the carrying of handguns, namely allowing concealed carry in parks.
Board members met in the county administration building to discuss the issue.
As far as carrying firearms in county buildings like the board’s venue, the state left the decision up to local governments.
Planning board members voted favorably.
“A busy legislature equates to a busy local government staff,” said Ed Muire, the county’s planning and development director. “The changes in the (N.C.) House (of Representatives) bill session law provided more opportunities for concealed carry in parks and recreation facilities. The state narrowly defined where a recreation facility is.”
The state granted local governments the freedom to regulate those concealed carry laws in those facilities, Muire said.
“But, in parks, per se, you cannot regulate the concealed carry of a handgun,” Muire said.
Planning board members voted to recommend to commissioners changing the county’s ordinances to allow concealed carry in all county buildings, including libraries.
Firearms in the courthouse, which is a state-regulated facility, is prohibited.
Planning board member Blake Jarman was the only member of the board to vote against approving the changes in concealed carry laws.
“I think it is important that we all know that the more we allow any kind of weapon in certain areas, we’re promoting a society that is all about weapons,” Jarman said. “I think it is important that we have the right to bear arms, and I don’t think being told you can’t carry a weapon inside a county building is saying you don’t have that right.”
For Joe Teeter, another planning board member, the ability of individuals, and strangers, to be able to defend themselves with firearms during an active shooter situation is essential for safety and survival.
The shootings at Columbine High School, the Aurora movie theater in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School all have something in common, Teeter said.
“It was illegal to bring a gun to that area. Common sense will tell us that laws do not keep criminals from bringing guns into gun-free zones,” Teeter said. “If we were in this room right now and somebody came in and started lining people up and shooting them — bam, bam, bam, bam — we’re all going to pray that somebody in this room has got a firearm.”
The “sad truth,” Teeter said, is the only way to “stop a crazy person with a gun is with a good person with a gun.”
After debating whether the school system should be responsible for posting signs prohibiting concealed carry during park events, board members approved the recommendation to change the ordinances.
“We felt that the Rowan County citizens should have every right that the state law allows, and therefore, we are making our recommendation to not put any restrictions on the county citizens that the state does not have,” said Larry Wright, a member of the planning board.
Wright worked as chairman of the planning board’s subcommittee that addressed the issue prior to Monday’s meeting.
“Basically, it is a matter of granting our citizens the freedom that is allowed by the state law,” Wright said.
Muire said the planning department will get the board’s recommendation to commissioners next month, and ultimately get the changes up for a vote at the April 21 meeting.