After a shooting at a water park in Decatur, Alabama, officials in the town are trying to figure out what they can do to declare the park a “gun free zone” without violating state law.
The Decatur Daily reports that officials say they need a change in state law before banning visitors from bringing guns into Decatur’s Point Mallard water park. But a state lawmaker from Decatur says minor changes would allow a gun ban.
The issue is a state law that allows weapons at many public venues.
Right now there appears to be some back and forth between local officials and state lawmakers, who say the town could ban firearms if it made some changes to security at the water park complex.
City attorney Herman Marks says state law prohibits an outright ban on guns. Republican State Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur says lawyers tell him the city could prohibit guns if it also controls access and increases security.
What none of the local officials seem willing to acknowledge, however, is that the suspect in the case was illegally carrying a firearm when he allegedly fired shots.
Caleb Jones is held in the Morgan County jail. The 18-year-old’s bail is set at $60,000. He’s charged with two counts of felony assault.
Decatur police spokeswoman Emme Long said authorities believe the shooting was “an isolated incident,” though she said detectives aren’t yet ready to comment on the motive.
“At this time we believe they were acquaintances,” Long told AL.com on Monday. “We’re just thankful the two victims were just released with minor injuries.”
If convicted of second-degree assault, Jones faces up to 20 years in prison.
So the suspect is facing the possibility of two decades behind bars if he’s convicted of shooting his two acquaintances, and that wasn’t enough to stop him from allegedly pulling the trigger, but the folks pushing a gun ban at the water park believe that declaring it a gun free zone would’ve prevented this from happening? That’s absurd.
I can’t think of any reason I’d want to bring my gun to a water park, but I also can’t think of any reason why a criminal who did want to do that would be thwarted by a sign that says “no guns allowed”. It’s a dumb idea to bring your Walther to the wave pool or take your Sig on the Slip-n-Slide, but it’s also pretty dumb to think that putting up a sign declaring a water park to be “gun free” will make it so.
If the park is having problems with unsavory individuals it needs to address the security at the site. If, on the other hand, this was a random and isolated event, then perhaps park officials don’t need to anything at all.
One thing that could be done to stop incidents like this in the future is to make an example out of young Caleb Jones. If this case goes to trial and Jones is sent away for two decades, and if local law enforcement and the community make sure that other young men get the message that incidents like this will not be tolerated, I suspect that would have far more of an impact than any sign the city of Decatur could put in place at the water park.