Concealed-weapons issue on board’s agenda

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

During the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, Commissioner Hood Richardson is expected to ask for a status report concerning carrying concealed weapons on county property.

Richardson introduced the matter during the board’s Feb. 3 meeting. The board is split on the issue.

Restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in Beaufort County buildings could be eased if some Beaufort County commissioners have their way.

The commissioners, during its Feb. 3 meeting, voted 4-3 to obtain and review Cherokee County’s concealed-weapons ordinance to determine if Beaufort County should adopt a similar ordinance. Since that vote, the Cherokee County ordinance has been obtained by Beaufort County officials. Copies of it are included in the board’s agenda packet for the board’s meeting Monday.

The vote was along party lines, with Republicans Richardson, Stan Deatherage, Al Klemm and Gary Brinn voting for the motion. Democrats Jerry Langley, Ed Booth and Robert Belcher voted against it.

Richardson wants the board to at least consider lifting restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in all county buildings with the exception of the courthouse, schools and jail. He also wants the board to consider allowing county employees to carry concealed weapons at work when properly permitted to do so, as allowed in Cherokee County.

“One of the things that has happened to us with all of this business of doing away with guns … is something that all of us knew to begin with — the crooks have still got the guns,” Richardson said at the Feb. 3 meeting. “What you’ve done is created free-fire zones. None of these people in here have got guns. They’re not going to be able to defend themselves. Just walk in a start shooting if you’re unhappy. That’s what’s going on in a lot of places all over the country.”

Lifting concealed-weapons restrictions will provide better protection for county residents and county employees, he said then.

Commissioner Stan Deatherage supports the idea.

“On its face, it looks like we’re in support of guns being in schools and everybody having a gun — a shoot’em-up kind of place. I have long been in favor of people who are duly licensed being able to carry firearms for their protection and the protection of others,” Deatherage said in February.

Deatherage supports having “locked-down guns with people who know how to use them” in the county’s public schools.

Brinn expressed concerns with Richardson’s proposal. Brinn said he has no problem with reviewing Cherokee County’s ordinance.

“I’ve got a lot of concerns about people carrying firearms anywhere they want to,” Brinn said last month. “I want to see some good hard information before I ever agree with that.”

Langley, board chairman, opposed Richardson’s proposal.

“I’m not going for it,” he said.

Langley said he’s got safety concerns related to the issue.

Richardson believes approval of his proposal would provide a deterrent to violent crimes, particularly shootings at schools and in the workplace.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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