Openly carrying weapons on Cumberland County property became illegal Monday.
The county Board of Commissioners approved the law by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Jimmy Keefe opposing. He wanted to delay the matter for 60 days so county staff members could clarify which recreational areas are exempt from the law.
“Because the devil is always in the details, we should look at it again,” Keefe said.
Commissioners voted for the prohibition in June, but it required a second vote because the first wasn’t unanimous. Keefe also was the only commissioner to oppose the issue then.
Violators of the law could face a fine of up to $500.
Keefe said Monday that the prohibition was confusing because the word “park” was removed but “recreational facility” remained.
Assistant County Attorney Robert Hasty said park was taken out because state law does not allow the prohibition of guns on greenways, walking trails or bike paths.
Commissioner Glenn Adams asked how the law would apply to places such as Arnette Park, which has ball fields and walking trails.
Hasty said the issue isn’t clear, but his opinion was that the law would apply to the property’s majority use, which would be the athletic fields.
Commissioner Charles Evans said he wanted clarity, but opposed the 60-day delay. He said he is against carrying weapons on county property.
“We don’t want to instill fear on property we maintain,” he said.
Chairman Kenneth Edge said commissioners have a responsibility to protect the county’s residents.
“I think this is too much for us to be belaboring for one month or two months,” he said.
The issue came up when a man entered the Gillespie Street courthouse in downtown Fayetteville carrying a gun openly, county officials said. The building now houses offices.
Another man challenged a notice at the library that prohibits carrying weapons of any kind. That man told library staff that state law preempts county rules about carrying handguns, and that he might sue if his rights were violated.
Under the new law, a person would not be allowed to openly carry a gun in the Gillespie Street courthouse or the library.
In other business, commissioners met in closed session for 56 minutes to discuss an attorney-client matter and a personnel issue.
After coming back into open session, commissioners voted unanimously to put off a vote on hiring a law firm to investigate a personnel matter. A vote on hiring the firm of Lewis, Deese and Nance was on the agenda, but commissioners decided to talk about it in closed session instead.
Commissioners also voted to delay a vote on a lease amendment for Alliance Behavioral Healthcare so county administrators could discuss the issue with Alliance officials. The amendment would have extended the lease on Executive Place through December, with the lease becoming month-to-month after that so Alliance could look for a new location.
Commissioner Jeannette Council said she thought the county had a good relationship with Alliance.
“It looks like we’re not working together,” she said.