Morrisville will revise town ordinances to allow guns on playgrounds

aramos@newsobserver.comOctober 22, 2013 

— It’s not the town’s fault that guns are allowed on playgrounds.

Morrisville became the site of the gun rights debate Tuesday as the town council considered whether to revise their ordinances to comply with the state law that went into effect Oct. 1 and allows concealed-weapons permit holders to bring their firearms to playgrounds, greenways and college campuses.

Residents from around the Triangle and Morrisville argued for and against removing the restrictions in the town’s parks. Some voiced anger against state lawmakers.

“I implore you to do everything you can to keep guns off playgrounds,” said Sarah Sidney, a Morrisville parent. She said having a concealed weapons near children is a risk.

“Accidents can happen,” she said. “When they happen with a gun, results are devastating. As a parent I am unwilling to take that risk.”

Gun owner William Smith of Morrisville disagreed, saying concealed weapons carriers are responsible individuals. He said violent incidents are more likely to happen where there are signs that ban concealed weapons.

“A no-gun sign is an invitation that only victims can be found inside,” he said.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to permit the guns in parks was taken out of the town council’s hands, council members said. They voted unanimously to revise the town’s ordinances to uphold state law.

The town council, however, did decide to exercise the only authority granted to it by the state: restricting concealed weapons on sports fields during town-sponsored events.

“It’s clear the vast majority don’t want these restrictions (removed),” said Councilman Steve Diehl. “Remember this when you go to vote for the state legislature next year during elections.”

Kaaren Haldeman of Durham said she wasn’t surprised that the town chose to comply with state law. But she hopes it passes a resolution voicing opposition to the law, like other towns in the state are doing.

“I came here because I wanted to go on the record and let our legislature know that parents don’t agree with this law,” said Haldeman, who is part of the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Mayor Jackie Holcombe has been a vocal opponent of the new state law. While Holcombe said she supports law-abiding gun owners, her first priority is to public safety.

“This is a beginning of a bigger discussion with the state of North Carolina,” she said. “It’s too important to say that’s the law, let’s go with it. We’re not done.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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