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NC Cities Say 'No' to New Gun Law

December 20, 2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Guns are now permitted by law at North Carolina parks, playgrounds and other public places, unless cities pass their own, more restrictive laws, and at least 19 municipalities have chosen to do so. The new state law that went into effect December 1 allows people with proper permits to carry certain types of concealed weapons at public parks and highway rest stops, and on waterways. Even those cities that already had stricter gun laws must now pass new ordinances if they want to circumvent the new state law.

Winston-Salem did just that, in November. Tim Grant heads up the Recreation and Parks Department there, and he says city lawmakers took quick action.

"Any time you have athletic activities or competition, where you could possibly have emotions, I think it's a bad mixture when you allow concealed weapons."

Grant also points out the additional cost to local governments for purchasing signs for their parks to notify people of their ordinance. He says Winston-Salem has paid $8,000 for its new signage. Chapel Hill, Cary and Raleigh have all passed similar laws.

Roxane Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, questions the change in state law, and also has concerns about who is obtaining these gun permits.

"Why? There actually isn't a huge crime spree happening in our area parks or playgrounds. We think that before we're even going to discuss guns in more public areas, we need to look at our permitting system."

The new state law also weakens the permitting system, according to Kolar. It reduces a sheriff's department's ability to use mental health records when reviewing permit applications, and also gives a department only half as much time to review the applications: 45 days, down from 90 days.

Supporters of the law say people have the right to carry a properly-permitted weapon, but Kolar fears some cities aren't aware of how the new state law affects their current ordinances.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC