Misunderstanding at gun ordinance public hearing in Haywood County

Misunderstanding at gun ordinance public hearing in Haywood County (Photo credit: WLOS)

HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. -- Commissioners held a public hearing on Monday because of concerns about state law allowing more people to legally carry concealed weapons.

A couple hundred people showed up at that Haywood County Board of Commissioners public hearing and not one person spoke in favor of ordinance changes.

Commissioners are trying to revise the ordinance with amendments to comply with state law.

Several people at Monday's hearing seemed to think their concealed carry rights were being taken away, but the county manager said that's not the case.

The meeting started with the county manager, Ira Dove, attempting to set things straight with a presentation that explained it's not about a ban on carrying concealed guns.

"Since 1995 concealed and open banned on all government property, so this isn't new. And that's a big point of confusion I think," Dove said. "And the other thing is it's only government property. We're not talking about your homes."

County officials explained what's happening to the county ordinance is expansion. That's because state law has expanded and is less restrictive, and Haywood County must comply with new state legislation.

"We had to change that because the state law says you got to have an exception to storing a firearm in a motor vehicle," Dove said.

The locations listed in the ordinance where you cannot carry concealed handguns in Haywood County, once again, haven't changed in 21 years.

However, people still stood up to protect gun rights they thought were in danger.

"Concealed carry saves lives. I strongly urge you to take a step forward by allowing lawful permit owners to defend themselves and their families," one resident said.

"If you've got a gun, it's always better to have a gun and never need it than need it and never have it," a Haywood County man said.

Many stood up there and said there shouldn't be any gun carrying restrictions.

"I have three granddaughters and you better bet I'm going to take care of those granddaughters and my wife," another man said. "I'm going to defend what's mine and I'm going to defend what's yours."

County commissioners said they were not legally required to hold Monday's public hearing, but they wanted to hear what the public had to say.

There will possibly be a vote on the revised ordinance on Monday, April 4 at the board of commissioners' regular meeting.

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