Due to an impasse in negotiations with North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Grass Roots North Carolina will today file for a temporary restraining order in Wake County Superior Court with the intention of preventing the Department of Agriculture from posting the state fair against lawful concealed carry.
At the request of North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, GRNC representatives met with the commissioner and his legal counsel after his police chief for the state fairgrounds, Joel Keith, began telling people the North Carolina State Fair would be posted against all firearms, including lawful concealed carry. Although Troxler is not particularly anti-gun, he seems unwilling to take responsibility for doing the right thing, saying instead that as a member of the executive branch, he cannot interpret statutes and must follow the interpretations given to him (more on that shortly).
Consequently, the commissioner and GRNC were unable to achieve a satisfactory resolution of the problem. GRNC is now preparing a filing for a temporary restraining order, through its sister non-profit, Rights Watch International, to prevent the fair, which starts next week, from being posted.
ORIGINS OF THE PROBLEM
Before passage of House Bill 937, which became effective on October 1, 2013, guns were prohibited at “assemblies of people for which admission is charged.” Since that section of NCGS 14-269.3 was changed to permit carry by those with concealed handgun permits, however, only private property owners hosting such assemblies may prohibit concealed carry. The state fairgrounds, of course, are not private property.
Although NCGS 14-269.3 specifically opens carry to permit-holders, Troxler claims “vague” language in the statutes enables the state to post under NCGS 14-269(a2), which says the state’s general prohibition on concealed weapons, “does not apply to a person who has a concealed handgun permit issued in accordance with Article 54B of this Chapter, has a concealed handgun permit considered valid under G.S. 14-415.24, or is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to G.S. 14-415.25, provided the weapon is a handgun, is in a closed compartment or container within the person’s locked vehicle, and the vehicle is in a parking area that is owned or leased by State government.”
The section above merely enables permit-holders to keep guns in closed compartments of locked motor vehicles in state properties where guns are prohibited. It does not create a prohibition in itself.
In fact, NCGS 14-269.4 lists the specific state properties – such as the State Capitol, Governor’s Executive Mansion” and courthouses – where guns are prohibited. That section does not include the state fairgrounds.
Even in the exceedingly unlikely event a court agreed that Troxler is allowed to post the fair, nothing requires him to do so. In short, his rationalization that he is just following what he has to do is false. Troxler is choosing to prohibit lawful concealed handgun permit-holders from protecting their families not only at the fair, but also in the parking lots outside the fair.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
As we’ve seen time and again, gun-free zones are dangerous places for law-abiding citizens. No family should be rendered entirely helpless should an event occur such as what happened at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2011. Dozens of teenagers and young adults attacked peaceful fairgoers as they left the fair. Eleven people were injured and thirty-one arrests were made. Criminals are always empowered when they know that their intended victims are disarmed.