Politics & Government

Bill would allow guns at NC State Fair

FILE PHOTO, October 2013: The sun sets during the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh.
FILE PHOTO, October 2013: The sun sets during the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh. ehyman@newsobserver.com

A bill filed Thursday by four lawmakers would allow guns at the N.C. State Fair – nearly six months after a Wake County judge banned them.

The bill would allow people authorized to carry concealed weapons to carry them at the fair, though not on rides.

State law had prevented people from taking a firearm into events that charged admission but, with some exceptions, that was changed in 2013 to allow people with permits to carry concealed handguns.

But the fair had banned guns for decades, and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the fair’s no-gun policy wouldn’t change last year. Gun rights groups protested and sought to overturn the ban.

In October, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens refused to issue a temporary order barring agriculture officials from banning guns. The judge said he respects the right to bear arms, but “I do believe it would be unwise and imprudent for firearms to be carried into the State Fair.”

A spokesman for Troxler said the department opposes the bill.

“We appreciate the representatives’ concern that guns and State Fair rides are a bad mix,” Brian Long said. “But when you consider that the State Fair has about 100 rides, we don’t think this proposal would be practical from an enforcement standpoint. We would like to see the House consider something more similar to Senate Bill 579.”

That bill, sponsored by Sen. Brent Jackson of Sampson County, would clarify that carrying guns at the Fair would be illegal. It also gives the agriculture commissioner the right to make rules on concealed weapons at the event.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by Charlotte Republican Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, also would bar businesses or employers from prohibiting people with concealed-carry permits from transporting or storing a weapon or ammunition.

Schaffer could not be reached for comment.

Another bill, whose sponsors include GOP Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County, would allow lawmakers and their staffs to carry concealed weapons in the General Assembly.

Morrill: 704-358-5059