“We, according to state law, need to adapt our local ordinances related to guns and concealed weapons in parks and greenways,” said Town Council member Lee Storrow.
“Staff had recommended that we go ahead and adjust those laws, our local ordinances, to allow weapons on parks and greenways. But there has been a lot of community feedback and folks are really concerned about that potential.”
Mebane resident Shantina Foster, a mother playing at Carrboro’s Hank Anderson III Community Park with her family Monday, said she thinks guns should not be allowed in local parks because she is worried about the lack of accountability some weapons owners could have.
“Bullets don’t have a name on them,” she said. “I hope they are able to overturn it. I don’t think it’s something that should be allowed to happen.”
A potential lawsuit
“We can only do what the state allows us to do. And in this particular situation, the state has limited our ability to regulate the lawful carrying of concealed weapons in certain areas,” said the town’s Senior Legal Advisor Tiffanie Sneed during the Town Council meeting last week.
Council member Storrow wrote a resolution for the town manager that would inform property owners who have been granted a greenway easement by the town of their potential right to bar concealed weapons from their property.
Andy Stevens attended the meeting last week on behalf of the gun-rights organization Grass Roots North Carolina, to discuss Storrow’s proposal.
“Unfortunately, it is the position of Grass Roots North Carolina that the statute that you are attempting to blanket and still permanently prohibit firearms in a number of your parks is still not in compliance with state law,” said Stevens.
If the council moves to pass Storrow’s proposed resolution into law, Stevens said Grass Roots North Carolina would likely file a lawsuit.
‘A town resident, a mom’
Since Storrow’s proposal, the Town Council has determined it cannot pass this resolution in its current form, but staff will continue to investigate.
“I’m a town resident, I’m a mom,” said Chapel Hill resident Judy Panitch. “These are places where my family has gone for years to relax, to recreate, to enjoy activities or nature. We and our friends and neighbors have done so with the understanding and the expectation that we will not encounter firearms.”
Kaaren Haldeman attended the meeting to speak as the North Carolina Chapter Lead of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“As a researcher trained in public health and social medicine and a decades long UNC employee, I’ve studied gun violence,” Haldeman said during the meeting.
“Now, areas where our children live and play that were previously low-risk: playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, restaurants, greenways and parades are now high-risk environments under the new law.”