Concealed carry of firearms approved in county buildings
Concealed carry of firearms is now legal in county-owned buildings, but work still remains, according to county officials.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure that makes concealed carry legal in certain county-owned buildings. The decision came after a lengthy discussion by commissioners and several, mixed public comments.
Discussion among commissioners largely focus on handling school groups outside of classroom. More specifically, the commissioners focused Tuesday on who should be responsible for notifying gun owners if school children are in parks or county owned buildings. State law prohibits guns from school property, except when locked in boxes in vehicle.
“I don’t think that anybody who is carrying concealed purposely wants to violate the law,” said board vice chair Craig Pierce about walking onto school property with a concealed weapon. “But, if I pull into the parking lot, get out of my car and they are running through the woods, I may not even know they are there. I don’t want somebody to get a criminal charge just because we failed to make a notification.”
The decision to allow concealed carry in parks is allowed by state law, passed by the N.C. General Assembly in late 2013, The law left concealed handgun carry in county buildings to local governments. Before Tuesday’s approval only three other counties allowed concealed carry in county buildings — Cabarrus, Alamance and Cherokee — according to planning director Ed Muire.
Both public and commissioners’ comments focused mainly on how concealed carry could change environments in county buildings.
“If this board chooses to open up concealed carry at its buildings, which includes the library, and there’s a field trip to the library, are we under the same issues as a group at Dan Nicholas Park,” said commissioner Chad Mitchell referring to posting warning signs.
The commissioners considered making schools responsible for posting signs when taking field trips to areas outside of the classroom.
Public comments in favor of concealed carry cited the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution and training time required to obtain a permit. While some public comments opposed to the measure said employees, if angered, could choose to point the gun at co-workers and potentially shoot.
Muire said during Tuesday’s meeting that the concealed carry measure was effective immediately, though board attorney Jay Dees said county government may still have work to do.
“We’ll have to sit down as a staff to see where those issues might occur,” Dees said.
He used personnel policies and training as examples of work that still needs to be complete, as county employees will also be allowed to carry guns in county buildings. Certain county buildings, such as the courthouse, wouldn’t allow concealed carry because of state law.
Open carry may not end up being legal in county owned buildings that are leased to third-parties.
West End Plaza, previously the Salisbury Mall, is one example of a county-owned building that contains tenants. Commissioner Mike Caskey made a motion during Tuesday’s meeting to let tenants choose whether to allow concealed carry of firearms.
“If they want to allow concealed carry, that’s their choice,” Caskey said.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246