Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Guns Carry During Emergency Declaration

No guns allowed, declares city, it's a 'snow emergency'
Hidden state laws ban firearm sales, even possession, during crises

Residents of King, N.C., were startled earlier this month when a declared snow emergency triggered a law forbidding the possession of firearms in public.

Furthermore, North Carolina isn't the only state where authorities can ban gun sales, or even possession, upon declaration of "emergency," even though what constitutes an "emergency" might be deemed questionable.

According to North Carolina statute 14-288.7, when a municipality declares a state of emergency in which "public safety authorities are unable to … afford adequate protection for lives or property" – such as during the recent East Coast record snowfall – "it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon."

In other words, when the cops can't get through on the roads, the citizens can't take guns off their own property.

"This has to be the most ridiculous event of the century!" protested a commenter on the website of Winston-Salem's WXII-TV, which reported the ban. "This is the ultimate denial of liberties for the most asinine reason ... bad weather!"

But King Police Chief Paula May told the station that when the City Council and county authorities declared the emergency, regardless of the reason, state law took over.

"By law, statute 14-288.7 automatically went into effect," May told WXII. "And that law, which goes into effect when there's a state of emergency, prohibits the transportation, purchase, sale and possession of firearms other than on one's own premises."

Other states also have laws restricting firearm use that lie dormant until a declared state of emergency, a fact that worries some gun rights activists.


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