Local News

Judge upholds ban on concealed weapons at State Fair

Posted October 13, 2014 3:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2014 8:45 p.m. EDT

— A judge ruled Monday that concealed handguns will not be allowed at the North Carolina State Fair, a decision that disappointed gun-rights advocates who asked for the ban to be overturned.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said he believed "it would be unwise and imprudent to allow firearms into the State Fair."

An attorney for the state argued that people just want to go to the fair, eat a fried Twinkie and enjoy the rides. The attorney warned that people often lose items while on rides.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as it has in previous years, said it plans to put up signs warning against lawful conceal carry at the 11-day event and will ask anyone with a weapon going through metal detectors at fair gates to leave it in their vehicle.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says he made the decision based on what he says is a vague 2013 law prohibiting people from carrying guns at events where admission is charged.

“A weapons ban is just one way to minimize risk and maintain a family-friendly environment,” he said.

Troxler released a statement after Monday's ruling, thanking the judge "for upholding the longstanding policy banning weapons at the State Fair and for issuing his decision so quickly."

Gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina says there is nothing in the law that requires Troxler to prohibit guns. The group said it believes the commissioner is choosing to keep permit-holders from protecting their families.

"I don't know why people should be concerned about concealed handgun permit holders at the State Fair," Grass Roots N.C. President Paul Valone said. "They've been carrying next to them in grocery store lines since 1995, all without incident."

Fair officials said they heard from dozens of people who said they wouldn't attend the fair if concealed weapons were allowed. Troxler says the policy has nothing to do with being against guns or the Second Amendment but that it is about concerns of accidental discharge.

"I believe that the mix of kids, guns, rides and large crowds is a bad idea," he said.