County votes to allow firearms in parks

Discussion of city ordinance arises; second reading will be required

By RANDY PATRICK

Sun Reporter

Local parks visitors aren’t allowed to swear, drink beer, skateboard, or bring their pooches, but they can now bring their pistols.

Last week the Clark County Fiscal Court voted to amend the city-county parks and recreation ordinance to strike the part that prohibited possessing firearms in a public park.

People still can’t discharge their guns, but they can carry them, either openly or concealed, with or without a permit.

That’s in keeping with recent changes in state law that bar local governments from enacting their own laws restricting the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

County Judge-Executive Chris Pace and all but one of the magistrates voted last Thursday to repeal the part of Ordinance 2018-07 that said possession of firearms was prohibited.

The vote was on a first reading, which is only an indication of how members will vote on the second reading, which is the only one that actually matters. Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos made that point after Magistrate Robert Blanton said he was voting against the measure because it was not a joint ordinance of the city and county governments, which together own and manage the parks.

“This is not consistent with what we have always had,” Blanton said.

Pace explained that some of the language that had been redacted from a prior ordinance was reinserted into the current one, and the county attorney had informed the court that the prohibition of guns was a violation of state statutes.

“I don’t know whether the city made the same error or not,” Pace said.

Blanton asked to delay the vote.

“I really see no need to proceed with this tonight until we see if the city is the same or not because I would prefer that it be a joint ordinance, if it is necessary at all,” Blanton said.

But Pace called for a vote, and he, magistrates Joe Graham, Travis Thompson, Konstantopoulos, Chris Davis, and Greg Elkins, all voted in favor of it.

A search of the city of Winchester’s parks and recreation ordinance on its website shows nothing prohibiting the possession of firearms in parks, although it prohibits firing them except in defense of persons or property.

The ordinances do prohibit use of BB guns, as well as bows and arrows.