Court Rules Guns Allowed In Parks


Staff member
Have gun, will travel ... in municipal parks.

The issue of a section of Pennsylvania law came up for debate at a Lower Salford Parks Board meeting last month, and it brings to light how the law may affect other municipalities in the area.

The regulation in question states “no county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this commonwealth.”

The law, enacted Jan. 30, 2007, and endorsed by 16 members of the state House basically says that anyone who is not prohibited from owning a firearm in the state can carry a handgun in public, no license required, and the gun must be visibly displayed, or not concealed.

A municipality may not enact any ordinance or take any other action dealing with the regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of a firearm. It can, however, enact an ordinance, upon approval in a public referendum, that regulates the discharge of firearms within its boundaries.

The Lower Salford situation revolved around resident Derek Price, of Meetinghouse Road, who brought to the attention of the supervisors and the park board that the township’s regulation of prohibiting guns in its parks not only conflicts with state law, but also abridges the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms.

“There are stipulations in the state Constitution that permit that, and we are not in a position to try and supercede and go over what the state tells us what the rights are,” said Kent Krauss, Lower Salford Township Parks Board chairman.

Krauss said the parks board is an advisory board to the supervisors. His board met and discussed the issue and passed it on to the supervisors, he said.

Township solicitor Jim Garrity agreed with Price, and Krauss said Garrity is working with the board to come up with some sort of plan.

“It’s beyond our decision,” he said last month. “I think, as a whole, the board would like to prohibit weapons, but it’s not something that is up to us.”

Krauss said there’s been very little comment on the situation. He expected the supervisors to review the law and do whatever was appropriate.

“As a father of two young children, I don’t want to see (firearms be permitted in parks),” he said. “I’m very hopeful it will remain as it’s been.”

The feeling is Lower Salford will allow guns to be visibly displayed on a person in township parks. Township policy is to question anyone bearing a gun in the park.

The township does prohibit the discharge of firearms in township parks.

“The solicitor reviewed it and we could remove the prohibition on legal carry,” Lower Salford Township Chief Thomas Medwid said. “If one had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, then they could have been carrying in parks all along.”

He said on a constitutional basis, a local ordinance cannot supersede state law and you can’t prohibit open carry.

“If it doesn’t say ‘township parks,’ then the assumption is it’s OK in township parks.” he said.

He said the state doesn’t prohibit carrying guns in parks. There is a misconception between concealed carry and open carry, he said.

Concealed carry is regulated by the state and then by the county, he said. To get a permit for a concealed weapon, one would need to apply with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and state the reason for concealment, be it self-defense, business or law enforcement purposes.

With this issue, Medwid doesn’t expect it to be a problem.

“Am I expecting to be inundated with people? No, I’m not. We are aware of it and the solicitor is researching the ordinance,” he said. “We are not expecting a large increase of people that want to openly carry firearms.”

Lansdale and Montgomery Township both have prohibitions against discharging a firearm in their respective parks.

Lt. Gordon Simes of Montgomery Township police said township parks are posted with warnings of no carrying or discharging of firearms.

“It will be enforced until such a time a decision is made to tell us to change the ordinance,” Simes said. “If something were to come down from supervisors, the parks and recreation ordinance would not be null and void because of one clause that’s stricken.”

Sgt. Robert McDyre of Lansdale Borough Police said officers have encountered individuals carrying BB guns in parks, but couldn’t recall a time when officers seized a firearm off anybody in a park.

He said it comes down to common sense when walking with a visibly displayed gun.

“Any member of the community should know they will alarm people while openly displaying a gun while out in the community,” he said. “It’s just foolish.”

By: Tony Di Domizio
Source: Link Removed

Parks in violation

I am in the process of contacting some of the local boards for Parks and Recreation in my general area about these "no firearms" parks.

So far, I've contacted Montgomery County, Upper Providence Township, Berks County, Amity Township, the City of Reading, and Lower Pottsgrove Township.

Berks County immediately sent me a reply, correcting their website and eliminating the ban. Lower Pottsgrove also replied and told me it was legal (I already knew!), but they never changed their signs.

Montgomery County and Upper Providence Twp. have yet to reply. From November '08. I'm planning on going to a Parks and Recreation Board meeting to address it face to face.

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