Greensboro News & Record columnist Doug Clark is hardly a fan of the Second Amendment, so it is noteworthy when he points out that Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ignored state law when he banned concealed carry at the North Carolina State Fair.
I’m not sympathetic to the firearms-everywhere gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina, but this time I think it has a point.
Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens pretty much ignored the intent of the law when he ruled yesterday that Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler can ban concealed handguns from the State Fair.
GRNC President Paul Valone issued a statement this morning saying:
“Judge Donald Stephens’ decision in the GRNC lawsuit against posting the state fair against concealed carry can best be summarized in his own words: ‘…I do believe it would be unwise and imprudent for firearms to be carried into the State Fair, and if there is some way I can interpret these statutes to prohibit that, I will.'”
UNC School of Government’s Jeff Welty examined the legal issues last week on the North Carolina Criminal Law blog.
“The principal concealed carry statute is G.S. 14-415.11,” Welty wrote. “It establishes the general rule that a person with a concealed carry permit ‘may carry a concealed handgun unless otherwise specifically prohibited by law.’ So, under the law, concealed carry is allowed at the State Fair unless there is a law specifically prohibiting it, or allowing the Agriculture Commissioner to prohibit it. To the best of my knowledge, the Commissioner hasn’t publicly identified any such law.”
Ultimately, Judge Stephens was not able to find a statute justifying his opposition to carrying concealed weapons under the law, and instead banned lawful carry based on his personal feelings, as he made perfectly clear.
We’re a nation of laws… until politicians and judges decide to ignore them, or enforce them unevenly, based on whims and personal feelings.
The carrying of concealed firearms by permit holders has never been a problem in other state fairs, and it says quite a bit about the statist tendencies of Republican moderates like Governor Pat McCrory and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler that they have exceeded their authority to impose a ban that is patently unsupportable by a fair reading of the law.
We’ll be watching closely to see what crimes (if any) are committed at the North Carolina State Fair as a result of this ruling.
“Wilding”—attacks on random people by mobs of youths that seem to be organized via social media—have plagued other state fairs in recent years.