Even in a piece intended to be somewhat pro-gun, if lighthearted and a bit snarky, the reliably anti-gun, anti-self defense Winston-Salem Journal gets a part of its story wrong. In an article by Scott Sexton entitled An Experiment: Guns in parks, no disasters that ran on April 30,2012, he writes:
State law does not allow cities or counties to designate entire parks as criminal empowerment zones free of guns, as the City Council of Winston-Salem has done. Rather, State law allows them to designate certain portions of parks as gun free zones. Those portions are playgrounds, swimming pools, and athletic fields. That's it. Other areas of the parks, including hiking trails, greenways, meadows, parking areas, forests, and so forth are not permitted to be criminal empowerment zones. Note also that State law doesn't say that a city must designate these areas as criminal empowerment zones, only that they may. Never the less, little tyrants in most cities have seen fit to designate as much ground as they can, evidently feeling that maintaining a strong criminal underclass is a good thing for them to personally. How else to explain it? By slanting his story in this fashion, Mr. Sexton either believes that the majority of his readers are ignorant, or he is pandering to the very government he, as a so called journalist, is supposed to be watching. Which is it?
North Carolina loosened state gun laws in 2011, allowing residents to carry guns in parks — either openly or concealed, if the proper permit was legally obtained. Like the federal government, the legislature also allowed local governments to decide for themselves whether to ban weapons from their parks.
The city of Winston-Salem did so. Forsyth County decided to allow those with concealed-carry permits to do so in most county parks. Tanglewood, because alcohol can be served there, is an exception.
The City of Winston-Salem has been the most egregious in that they have designated their entire park system as one giant playground. Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) has decided to sue the City to force them to come into compliance with the law, and make an example of them. A quote from an alert by GRNC:
It is generally not wise to fight city hall. Unless you are wealthy, as in Bill Gates wealthy, they have more resources than you do, and they are likely to win. But when folks get together and pool their resources, they have a fighting chance.
As you know, the city of Winston-Salem is among the most egregious offenders in flouting our new law for concealed carry in parks, continuing to ban guns in up to 52 entire parks, lakes, greenways and hiking trails in clear violation of the law.
GRNC's legal action arm, Rights Watch International, has notified the city of their non-compliance and, after receiving the city's imperial "blow-off" ("We will not entertain your request for a change to the ordinance"), we have retained one of the best gun lawyers in the state, Dan Hardway, and are now interviewing potential plaintiffs for the lawsuit.