Wake County

McCrory says no to guns at NC State Fair

The sunset over the midway. From the final day of 2012 N.C. State Fair in Raleigh, N.C. Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.
The sunset over the midway. From the final day of 2012 N.C. State Fair in Raleigh, N.C. Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. tiwabu@newsobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t want to allow guns into the N.C. State Fair, according to his office.

That means he’s supporting Steve Troxler, the head of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in trying to uphold a ban on firearms at the fair in the face of a potential legal challenge.

Grass Roots North Carolina, a nonprofit advocacy group for gun owners, argues that a new state law should allow people with the proper permits to take a concealed firearm into the fair, which opens Oct. 16. The law, born as House Bill 937, was passed by the legislature and signed by McCrory last summer.

Troxler is a supporter of the right to carry a concealed firearm but believes that guns would be detrimental to the State Fair’s family-friendly environment, he said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

McCrory supports that position, according to Josh Ellis, a spokesman for the governor.

“Commissioner Troxler called the governor yesterday to discuss the situation,” Ellis wrote in an email Wednesday night. “The governor agrees with the commissioner’s conclusion.”

Asked to clarify, Ellis said McCrory believed both that Troxler has a legal right to keep firearms out of the fair and that it was best to do so.

Rep. George Cleveland, a Jacksonville Republican and a primary sponsor of the bill, said Tuesday that the new law should allow concealed weapons at the State Fair.

“There was nothing in the bill that I could remember that said that the agricultural fair was exempt, or that the parking area ... was exempted,” Cleveland said. “We’ve said that wherever crowds gathered, concealed carry was allowed.”

Fair representatives have declined to make a specific legal argument against the potential challenge. It was unclear Thursday night whether Grass Roots had filed its legal challenge, which likely would ask the courts to prohibit the state from banning firearms at the State Fair.

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