Compliance achieved, but legal battle expected on gun law

Sep. 23, 2013 @ 09:44 PM

According to Henderson’s legal council, a new state law restricting local government bans against weapons in public places is contradictory and potentially headed for a legal fight.

John Zollicoffer, the city’s attorney, recommended changes to city code be expedited on Monday putting the city in compliance with the new law taking effect Oct. 1. The item was moved from a work session to active business and was approved by the council.

The new city code complies with the enumerated provisions for local restrictions in the new law passed under House Bill 937. The city code previously banned all weapons from being brought onto the premises of any park.

With the ordinance changes, conceal carry permit holders are allowed to keep hidden handguns when at parks in Henderson except during scheduled athletic events.

The restriction against concealed handguns remains in effect for recreational gymnasium and swimming pool facilities.

Parks without recreation facilities, where scheduled activities are not going to occur, include Chestnut Street, Jackson, King Kids, King Daughters I and II, Owen-Davis and David Street parks.

There are scheduled activities at Fox Pond Park, and permit holders are restricted from keeping handguns with them during those activities.

Permit holders are allowed to secure the firearms in a locked vehicle during those events and while inside gymnasium and swimming pool facilities, according to Zollicoffer.

The law’s section on conceal carry restrictions begins with an unqualified complete prohibition against any local “ordinances, rules or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun.”

Following that statement, notations by section and clause are included regarding what local government prohibitions are allowed and how.

Zollicoffer said the contradiction and what it means is a potential issue for a large municipality to wrestle with, but he would steer Henderson clear of any cost for legal procedures over it.

“I would have thought there would be included some phrase like ‘except as set forth herein,’ but there is no such wording,” Zollicoffer said. “The courts will have to deal with that if anyone wants to contest it. I expect some attorneys could take this and run with it if they want to.”

The unqualified prohibition against local ordinances concerning the legal carrying of concealed handguns appears immediately after a statement of state intent that all regulation be “a uniform system.”

Immediately following it is an additional statement that local governments may adopt an ordinance for posting a prohibition against carrying where applicable on local government buildings and premises.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.