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County to consider concealed weapons conformance proposal

By Staff | Oct 22, 2010

Lee County commissioners will decide Tuesday whether to allow permitted concealed firearms and weapons at county parks, to be in accordance with state law.
County staff is proposing an amendment to county Parks and Recreation Ordinance 06-26, which pertains to weapons and firearms. The amendment would bring the county into conformance with existing Florida statutes on weapons and firearms in parks.
Florida statutes allow a person to carry a concealed weapon or firearm in a state park, but he or she must possess a valid Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License and a valid identification. Currently, the county ordinance prohibits the carrying of firearms and weapons on county park property.
“The county needs to change its ordinance to be consistent with state law,” District 3 Commissioner Ray Judah said.
But, he continued, he plans to ask the commission to appeal to the Florida Legislature to amend the existing statutes to be consistent as it pertains to prohibiting firearms and weapons. According to Judah, Florida statutes understandably prohibit guns and weapons at professional sporting events.
“I would submit that the same reasoning applies to prohibiting them at youth sporting events,” he said.
A Little League coach for more than 18 years, Judah said he has seen some situations on the field that have become so heated that the local police were called on because the situations were getting out of control.
“Guns should not be allowed where the youth are involved in recreational activities,” he said. “Where there is active sporting events where people sometimes let their emotions get the better of them.”
“There’s not a parent in American that doesn’t recognize that situations can get volatile,” he added.
According to Judah, he would like to see firearms and weapons prohibited at county parks where youth sports activities take place, not all county parks. Permitted concealed weapons still would be allowed on Conservation 20/20 land, open park properties and county beaches.
“It’s not to trample the right of the NRA or gun advocates,” he said. “But there’s a place for everything.”
The issue of prohibiting weapons and firearms in county parks came to light after Amanda Buckley filed a lawsuit against Lee County in August claiming that the ordinance and related signs at county parks are not consistent with the Florida law pertaining to weapons and firearms, according to documents.
A message left for Buckley seeking comment was not returned Thursday.
Upon review, county staff concluded that an amendment was “prudent and appropriate,” the documents state. County staff recommended adopting the amendment, believing that it “will facilitate rapid settlement” in the lawsuit.
Staff from the county attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.