Concealed-weapons proposal rejected

Published 6:25 pm Friday, March 14, 2014

For now, Beaufort County employees will not be allowed to carry concealed weapons in county offices, even if they have permits to carry concealed weapons elsewhere.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, with a 4-3 vote, defeated a motion that would have lifted restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in all county buildings with the exception of the courthouse, schools and jail. The motion was proposed by Commissioner Hood Richardson. He also wanted the board to vote to allow county employees to carry concealed weapons at work when properly permitted to do so.

Voting against the motion were board Chairman Jerry Langley, Ed Booth, Robert Belcher and Al Klemm. Voting for it were Richardson, Stan Deatherage and Gary Brinn.

Earlier this year, the board voted to obtain and review Cherokee County’s concealed-weapons ordinance to determine if Beaufort County should adopt a similar ordinance. The vote was along party lines, with Richardson, Deatherage, Klemm and Brinn voting for the motion Langley, Booth and Belcher voted against it.

During the meeting Monday, Richardson said, “Cherokee County discovered that because of changes in the statewide legislation that their concealed-carry weapons law was no longer valid. So, they repealed the ordinance, and in repealing the ordinance, they’re essentially going with the state law,” he said. “But in repealing the ordinance, they also made provision … for county employees and others to be able to carry weapons in some public places that had been disallowed in the past.”

Richardson said he wants Beaufort County to change its concealed-carry policy to conform to Cherokee County’s ordinance.

“You’re still not going to be able to carry a concealed-carry (weapon) in the courthouse and … school buildings. Other than that, county employees would be allowed to, if they have a permit, and that’s a key thing. Lots of people tell me, ‘Oh, I’m afraid of people who have guns.’ Well, right now, you can strip a visible weapon on your hip and walk around anywhere you want to in the state of North Carolina. That’s legal. We’re only talking about concealed carry,” Richardson said. “We’re not talking about … changing the law. We’re talking about conforming with the law. We’re talking about allowing people to carry weapons where they can’t carry them now.”

Richardson wanted County Manager Randell Woodruff, in consultation with the county attorney, to “bring back … his proposed changes to the personnel policy in order to conform to what Cherokee County is doing and whatever ordinance we need to repeal.” Richardson also wanted staff to determine if the county’s concealed-carry weapons “exclusionary areas now are they in compliance with the state statutes.”

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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