Reality Check: Concealed Carry in Parks


ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Gun rights advocates say Asheville and Buncombe County have been breaking the law.

Grass Roots North Carolina says city and county parks have continued to post weapons bans even after the state lifted those gun restrictions. The group says signs that prohibit the possession of weapons in city and county parks are a violation of North Carolina law.

"What we're asking Asheville and other cities to do is exactly the same thing they ask the citizens: obey the law," Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone said.

Valone says photos taken in September and ones News 13 took this month prove local officials have been ignoring state law since 2013.

"Concealed carry is now legal in state and municipal parks with limited exceptions in narrowly defined recreational facilities, yet we continue to have cities that post against firearms including lawful conceal carry through the entire park system," Valone said.

North Carolina law now allows concealed weapons in parks with the exception of recreational facilities like swimming pools, gymnasiums and athletic fields where there are organized events.

Changes to the law now clarify that bike paths and greenways don't qualify as recreational facilities.

"Some of our park signs have ordinances, about 15 to 20 on one sign," Asheville City Parks and Recreation Director Roderick Simmons said. "We're in the process of trying to get those updated."

He says it was an oversight due to a change in staff. Tape now covers the section of signs that included the unlawful weapons ban.

"So it was just something we missed on our part," Simmons said. "It was not for the fact of trying to keep people from having guns in parks. It was just a mistake on our part."

Some Buncombe County Parks were also in violation. They too have now been covered up with tape. Buncombe County Chairman David Gantt says they're now working to correct their own illegal ordinance.

"We're meeting with the sheriff, the police chief and our legal team to decide how to resolve this," Gantt said. "We are going to be consistent with state law."

Local and county officials say it was simply an oversight involving time and money, but Valone believes there's no excuse for breaking a law now on the books for almost 3 years.

"What we find is that we find some ideologically motivated local governments shall we say seem to think they're above the law, that this law doesn't apply to them."

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