Town of Tryon approves firearm ordinance amendments
Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2016
By Leah Justice
The Town of Tryon approved new regulations regarding firearms to comply with a state law approved last year that provides more rights to people with concealed weapons permits.
Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, March 15 and adopted amendments to its firearm ordinance, including new provisions for when concealed weapons permit holders are restricted in carrying weapons at the town’s parks and some restrictions on persons who open carry a weapon on streets and sidewalks.
The town can no longer restrict concealed weapons at its parks by concealed weapons permit holders, namely Harmon Field and Ziglar Field unless at a scheduled recreational activity, such as a scheduled baseball game.
Tryon’s Board of Commissioners discussed three revisions to the town’s firearms ordinance last year during several meetings but failed to approve any of the revisions.
“Recent amendments to the N.C. state law have placed greater restrictions on the town’s authority to adopt weapons ordinances rendering many such ordinances, including parts of Tryon’s ordinance, now in violation of state law,” stated the town’s packet of information.
Joey Davis, Tryon’s Fire Chief and former town manager who is currently the town’s acting town manager while the town seeks a new town manager, said when council discussed the amendments in the past there were always questions and the ordinance has been sitting dormant for a few months.
Tryon Town Attorney Bailey Nager explained that the N.C. General Assembly made modifications to the state firearms law and one particular area the state amended the statute was in the area of concealed weapons to provide greater rights to concealed weapons carriers.
“And the town’s prohibition of concealed weapons is now too broad,” Nager said.
The state’s newest law says a town can restrict concealed weapons in recreational facilities for scheduled events but not in other areas of parks. Nager said if people are simply at a park playing a pick-up game, not scheduled, the town cannot prohibit concealed weapons by a concealed weapons permit holder. The new ordinance does not prohibit a concealed weapons permit holder from having a concealed weapon in a locked vehicle at the park during a scheduled recreational event.
The new state law also says the town can’t have a complete prohibition of open carry of weapons on its streets and sidewalks. The town’s ordinance now states that no one can carry a shotgun on its streets and sidewalks but can carry a handgun openly.
If a handgun is carried on the streets or sidewalks of Tryon, the handgun has to be holstered so the firing of the handgun is not possible, and the handgun must be clearly visible. Also, persons cannot carry an open handgun while consuming alcohol or a controlled substance. The person does not violate the town’s ordinance if the controlled substance is lawfully obtained and taken in appropriate amounts.
The town also adopted provisions so it can prohibit firearms at certain town events by adopting a resolution prior to each event.
“Display of handguns is prohibited within the area and boundaries of any town sponsored event to which the provisions of this section are made to apply by resolution of the board of commissioners,” states the town’s amendment.
Nager said the town can decide at a later time if no firearms will be allowed at a particular event. If the town prohibits firearms at an event, it would not apply to lawful concealed weapons by permit holders.
Commissioners were given a short and long version of ordinance amendments with the streets and sidewalks included in the long version as well as the ability to prohibit firearms at town events. Commissioner Bill Ingham said the long version didn’t sound too extreme to him. Commissioner Bill Crowell also said he wanted to go with the long version because it gives the town some control.
The amended version of the town’s ordinance is below or can be found at tryon-nc.com under town government/ordinances/Chapter 130:General Offenses.
130.08 PROHIBITION OF THE CARRYING AND DISPLAY OF HANDGUNS,
FIREARMS AND OTHER WEAPONS AT CERTAIN PUBLIC LOCATIONS.
(A) Concealed Handguns.
(1) Possession Prohibited. No person shall carry a concealed handgun in town-owned buildings, on the appurtenant premises of those buildings, or in town “recreational facilities,” as defined by G.S. 14-415.23(c), at Harmon Field and Ziglar Field. Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing in this section shall prohibit a concealed handgun permittee from securing the handgun within an enclosed compartment of a locked motor vehicle.
(2) Posting Required. The Town Manager or designee is hereby authorized and instructed to post conspicuous signage at appropriate locations on or within each recreational facility and each building and the grounds and parking areas of such buildings owned, leased as lessee, operated, occupied, managed or controlled by the town, as well as any other appurtenant premises to such buildings, indicating that carrying a concealed handgun on the properties and locations described in this section is prohibited therein and thereon unless specifically permitted or authorized by state law or the provisions of the town’s code of ordinances. The Town Manager or designee shall exercise discretion in determining the number and appropriate location of signs to be placed.
(B) Other Firearms and Weapons.
(1) No person shall display any firearm in public-owned buildings, on the grounds or parking areas of those buildings, or in public parks and recreation areas, including town greenways. On all other public property within the town, including public streets, alleys, and sidewalks, display of firearms shall comply with the following:
(a) no firearms other than handguns, as defined in G.S. 14-409.39, may be displayed;
(b) the handgun shall be holstered such that firing of the weapon is not possible;
(c) the handgun shall be clearly visible and not concealed or partially concealed;
(d) display of handguns is prohibited for any person while consuming alcohol or at
any time while the person has remaining in the person’s body any alcohol or in the person’s blood a controlled substance previously consumed, but a person does not violate this condition if a controlled substance in the person’s blood was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts;
(e) display of handguns is prohibited within the area and boundaries of any town sponsored event to which the provisions of this section are made to apply by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.
(2) Other than the firearms allowed in subparagraph (B)(1), above, no person shall display any deadly weapon, as defined in G.S. 14-269(a), or any knife having a blade of three inches or longer, BB gun, air gun, paintball gun, airsoft gun, bow and arrow or any type of lethal weapon, while on any public street, alley, sidewalk or other public property within the town, including town greenways, unless specifically permitted or authorized by law. No person shall carry or have possession of a knife having a blade of three inches or longer, a BB gun, air gun, paintball gun, airsoft gun, bow and arrow or any type of lethal weapon in any park, including town greenways.
(3) This subsection (B) is not applicable to concealed handguns, which are governed by subsection (A) above.
(C) Exceptions. The possession or display of a firearm or other weapon is exempt from the provisions of this § 130.08 in the following situations:
(1) If the chief of police, or designee, has authorized the public possession or display of a firearm, or other weapon, as part of an official program or event sponsored or sanctioned by the town.
(2) If the possession or display of the firearm, or other weapon, was the result of an individual(s) exercising his or her legitimate right to self-defense or the defense of others as allowed by law.
(3) If the possession or display of the firearm, or other weapon, was conducted by a person(s) authorized by law to carry and display such items as part of their official or otherwise recognized lawful duties (e.g., law enforcement officers, military personnel, security guards, etc.).
(4) If the possession or display of the firearm, or other weapon, was necessary for the temporary transport and securing of the item and was not otherwise in violation of existing statutes or ordinances (e.g., recent purchase and movement to vehicle for transport, securing of firearm by CCH permit holder in vehicle, found item to be turned in to authorities, firearm in approved vehicle gun rack, etc.).
(5) The possession or display of a knife with a blade longer than three inches for the performance of the duties of a town employee or contractor.
(D) Violation. The carrying of concealed handguns or the possession or display of any firearm or other weapon as defined in this section, in or upon any of the locations specified by this section, shall constitute a misdemeanor and subject any violator(s) so convicted to such penalties as may be imposed by the court.
(Ord 1995-10, passed 09-25-95; Am. Ord. 2016-02, passed 03-15-16)