Durham Herald Letter to the Editor by Board Member Sandy Ogburn
Smoking banned in parks where guns are welcome?
Durham city and county leaders, urged by the Health Department, are contemplating expansion of the ban on smoking in public areas. This is being done for public safety since all of us are at increased risk of the deleterious health effects from second hand smoke. This is good.
On Dec. 1, provisions of NC House Bill 650 become effective. This new state law prohibits local governments from banning the carrying of permitted concealed handguns onto local government property — including parks and recreation areas. This does not make me feel safe. I wonder how many families taking children to our playgrounds or going to sporting events at our playing fields know about this new law. How are families supposed to enjoy the otherwise healthy activities that take place at recreational facilities if they must worry that the person next to them might be carrying a loaded weapon?
House Bill 650 does allow local governments to adopt ordinances and post signs prohibiting the carrying of permitted concealed handguns in certain government recreational facilities like playgrounds, playing fields, swimming pools, and athletic facilities. Keep in mind that our local officials cannot prohibit the carrying of these same loaded guns onto other local government property.
Asheville, Winston-Salem, Garner, Gaston County, Smithfield, Greenville, Marion and Kernersville have all passed ordinances to ban concealed guns on their community playgrounds or recreational facilities. Durham leaders need to do this, too. Surely this is as important a public health risk as second hand smoke.
Read more: The Herald-Sun - Nov 30 2011