Posted: Tuesday, December 3rd 2013 at 7:56pm
Gainesville Council expresses reservations then approves 'guns-in-parks'
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE Ė Every member of the Gainesville City Council raised their hand Tuesday evening, unanimously approving an amendment to an existing city ordinance banning firearms in city parks; not every Council member, however, had their ďheartsĒ in the vote.
But because of that action it is now no longer against Gainesville law to carry a firearm in a city owned park.
"Iíd just like to point out, people donít understand, that we have to do this ordinance to comply with state law," Council woman Ruth Bruner said prefacing the vote.
Park and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper came forward at Brunerís beckon.
Bruner added, "This is not something that we wanted to do, to have any weapons in the park. Itís something that we absolutely donít want to do."
"Absolutely, we were in conflict with state law," Cooper said.
"Thereís one other issue that came before the city attorney and I just found out on Monday," Cooper said, stepping to the podium.
"It (the amendment) addresses everything except federal parks and we have Corp of Engineers parks or federal parks. They (firearms) are still banned by federal law in the federal parks," Cooper said.
"We got an email from the Corp of Engineers addressing that, and we are going to address that by putting signs up in the three Corps parks: Lanier Point, Holly Park, and Longwood Park, saying that guns are still prohibited in federal parks," Cooper explained.
Councilman Curtis Segars added his thoughts. "Quite a few people have raised objections just for the concept of this. We have a lot of citizens who are real concerned and I am one of them."
"Exactly!" echoed Council woman Myrtle Figueras.
Section I of the amended ordinance now reads:
"It shall be unlawful for any person while in a city park to have in his or her possession any item considered to be a weapon under state law, excluding firearms: however, no person shall discharge any firearm on or over any public property or public park, unless: in self-defense; or, under a license or permit issued by a governmental entity; or, as part of a reenactment or recreation of an historical event if such reenactment or recreation has been approved, authorized, or sponsored by the city, the state, or the United States of America or a political subdivision of any of them."
"My concept of a park is for kids, older people walking. I really think a lot of our citizens are upset over this," Segars said after the vote.
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