Cumberland County supervisors this week passed an ordinance that would prohibit the open carry of firearms at the county courthouse, library and recreation areas.
The Board of Commissioners approved the new law by a 6-1 vote Monday, prompted by recent moves by open carry advocates to bring firearms onto county owned property, challenging gun-free zone signs not backed by state law.
“We don’t want to instill fear on property we maintain,” said Commissioner Charles Evans, as reported by the Fayetteville Observer.
The ordinance, set to take effect in 60 days, would ban openly carried firearms on some public property in the county of some 320,000, home to Fayetteville and Fort Bragg.
Assistant County Attorney Robert Hasty advised commissioners state law does not allow the prohibition of guns on greenways, walking trails or bike paths, which led to an exemption for open carry in county parks, but other areas, to include ball fields, the courthouse and library system will be included.
Violators face a $500 fine.
The only commissioner to vote against the measure, Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, last month painted the proposed law as a knee-jerk reaction to minor incidents.
The area was the subject of a much-publicized incident last month when a soldier stationed locally at Ft. Bragg carried his privately owned rifle into an area mall to have his portrait taken, prompting calls to law enforcement. The individual in that case, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, was charged with a centuries-old misdemeanor known as “going armed to the terror of the public.”
“There has never been a problem, but we are making an ordinance because we think somebody felt uncomfortable,” Keefe said.
State gun rights advocates think Cumberland County is missing the mark.
“According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, since 1958 all but two of the mass killings in the United States have occurred in ostensibly ‘gun-free zones,’ presumably because criminals and sociopaths know victims will be disarmed,” Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone told Guns.com.
“At precisely the time our state legislature as well as other cities and counties are expanding the ability of citizens to protect themselves, it is disappointing to see that Cumberland County is so short-sighted as to restrict self-defense for those who lack concealed handgun permits,” said Valone.
The ordinance is set to take effect in October.