Concealed carry in city parks discussion will continue into new year

Some of the Great Falls residents who have been asking that it be legal to concealed carry in city parks are satisfied with the city’s interpretation of the current code that allows for concealed carry, but not open carry in city parks.

Paul Fischer spoke during the Nov. 21 City Commission meeting and urged his fellow citizens “to consider the matter closed.”

Initially, some residents interpreted the city code as prohibiting concealed carry in city parks, so the city attorney researched the background, intent and language of the current city code, which references state law.

Commissioners want more public discussion before considering changes to ordinance on guns in city parks

Her determination is that as written, through exceptions to exceptions, the code allows concealed carry in parks and on the River’s Edge Trail.

In her review she also determined that the code could be cleaned up for clarity and asked City Commissioners for direction.

They’ve asked staff to look at options and have also indicated that they want to have public meetings on the issue after the new year.

The discussion of potential changes to the ordinance, or the discovery that concealed carry was legal in city parks, also brought citizens opposed to guns in parks.

“I’m appalled that guns may be allowed in city parks,” B.J. Angermeier said. “We should be in our neighborhoods and not be worried about stray bullets.”

Angermeier said that she understands that the issuance of a concealed carry permit requires a class, but she had questions about how those with out-of-state permits would be regulated.

Guns in city parks? Ordinance is unclear, staff seeking commission direction on concealed carry in parks

Sharon Patton-Griffin also expressed concerns about concealed carry being allowed in parks.

“Somehow I’ve managed to survive without carrying a gun,” she said and added that she looks forward to the public meetings.

Those who have supported concealed carry in parks have suggested that the lack of weapons makes city parks and the trail soft targets for those wishing to do harm. Several women have spoken in recent months about their concerns for their safety due to past experiences and want to be able to defend themselves.

Under city code, guns, whether concealed or not, are prohibited in city buildings.