County votes ‘no’ on concealed carry

Published 6:18 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On Monday, Beaufort County Commissioners voted against a resolution that would have allowed members of public with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons into county buildings.

Commissioner Hood Richardson made the motion to do away with what he called “free-fire zones,” and fall in line with North Carolina law, which would allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring weapons into any government building excepting schools, detention centers and any place occupied by state or federal employees, including courthouses. Richardson made the argument that, with the number of shootings skyrocketing in workplace settings, it would allow county employees to feel more secure and protect themselves while at work. The resolution, however, did not apply only to county employees — any member of the public with a concealed-carry permit could carry a firearm into county buildings.

Commissioner Gary Brinn was the first to speak up in support of concealed weapons but not in support of the resolution.

“I just don’t like the intimidation factor. Although I believe in Second Amendment rights, I don’t support that,” Brinn said.

Commissioner Ron Buzzeo said he was in the process of getting a concealed-carry permit but questioned the county’s liability, insurance, the continued training of permit holders and the type of weapons people would be able to carry into county buildings.

“I was in law enforcement for many years and I carried a firearm and we were required to be certified twice a year,” Buzzeo said. “We don’t know what type of training they’ve had.”

Buzzeo was a narcotics investigator in New York and served with the DEA for 21 years.

In North Carolina, concealed-carry permit holders are not subject to continual certification, although they do have to participate in eight hours of classroom training, a 20-question test and show shooting proficiency at a firing range.

Board Chairman Jerry Langley warned about creating a situation where allowing concealed weapons into a building could cause more problems for employees.

“At the DSS, they take away a lot of children from a lot of folks,” Langley said. “You have employees that are not going to be comfortable with people walking into the tax office packing. That’s a lot of stress on the employees.”

The count went 5-2 against the resolution, with Richardson and Commissioner Frankie Waters the two voting in favor.

Richardson then made a motion that commissioners poll all county workers to determine their thoughts on the matter, citing Pitt County’s experience: Pitt County commissioners voted against such a resolution, only to reverse it after polling their workers, Richardson said.

The count went 5-2 against the polling resolution.

“I’d rather see a motion made that we do a review of the safety and security of the buildings — see if there’s any need for improvement,” Buzzeo said.

Langley suggested Buzzeo put that on the agenda for the January meeting.