Douglas leaders plan to vote to allow firearms at parks

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. —

Douglas County leaders plan to vote to allow firearms inside their public parks, because state law essentially requires them to do so.

Douglas County has a prohibition against guns in parks on its books, though officials admit they haven't enforced the ban for months now since the Georgia Supreme Court ruled against another metro Atlanta county in a similar case. Parks employees have already used tape to cover up the signs announcing the ban.

Over the past few years, the Georgia Legislature voted not only to prevent local governments from passing laws regulating firearms, it also passed a law allowing people with proper carry permits to carry guns in parks.

Right now, counties and cities can only regulate where those firearms may be discharged. Douglas County Attorney Ken Bernard pointed out that state law supersedes county law, so Douglas cannot ban firearms in parks if Georgia has a law allowing it.

"We felt like state law is pretty clear that municipalities and counties can't regulate carrying and basically anything associated with a weapon except its discharge," said Bernard. "So we're recommending changes in the local ordinance."

Over at Deer Lick Park in Douglasville, skateboarder Willie Jackson thought changing the law to allow properly permitted people the right to carry a firearm is a good idea that could save lives and stop criminals.

"I think that would be great," said Jackson. "(Criminals) would be less likely to commit a crime if they know you're packing."

Clifford and Deven Trowers run an academic summer camp for kids in Deer Lick Park. They don't like the idea of anyone carrying weapons in a park.

"I feel like we've taken this gun thing to a whole new level," said Deven Trowers. "We're at the park playing on the swing, or we're walking, or we're jogging and someone has the right to carry a gun? I don't know how safe that park is anymore, and that's unfortunate."

Douglas County scheduled a public hearing on the issue Aug. 20 and the commissioners will vote sometime afterwards.