Chapel Hill postpones making firearm code revisions

Jan. 24, 2014 @ 05:52 PM

The Chapel Hill Town Council recently decided to postpone a decision on proposed revisions to the town’s firearm code to bring it in line with new legislation.

The board agreed that it needed time for substantial questions and in-depth discussion before approving how the town would change its firearms code to bring it into compliance with recent state legislation that allows guns in various public places including swimming pools and public parks.
“We need to communicate as forcibly as we possibly can that we intend to mobilize against this,” said City Council member Maria Palmer.
Several residents offered comments on the proposed changes to the town’s code, many not in favor of the new law.
A representative from Grass Roots North Carolina said that the proposed ordinance that was online for public review and presented to the town was not in compliance with the law and that the organization was willing to file a lawsuit if needed.
According to its website, Grass Roots North Carolina -- founded in 1994 – is a “nonprofit, all volunteer organization devoted to educating the public about trends which abridge the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and engaging in grass roots activism to preserve those freedoms.”
Councilman Lee Storrow said he had questions about the law’s implementation with regard to buses and transit, easements and the use of signs.
“The sign piece is intriguing,” Storrow said. “Is there a creative option with signage, one that acknowledges changes in the law but shows the town’s stance?”
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said that he is in favor of the narrowest application of the law possible, citing the town’s stance on safety and that the current code is a “reasonable regulation to protect our community.”
“We’ve been at the forefront of this and I don’t believe this council is prepared to backslide on it,” he said.
Chapel Hill’s senior legal adviser, Tiffanie Sneed, agreed that the new law is outside the community’s standards but the town can only do what the state allows and “the state has severely limited that.”
Sneed added that it’s a state uniformity law so that those who carry weapons don’t have to adjust as they travel from county to county.