Pitt County commissioners delay controversial weapons proposal

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Pitt County commissioners delayed considering a controversial change in the county’s ordinance to allow employees and visitors to carry concealed weapons on county property.

Commissioners and county staff plan to revise the proposed ordinance, survey county employees and hold a public hearing on November 16 before considering a vote on this change.

Commissioner Glen Webb presented the proposal which exempts the courthouse, detention center and “educational properties.”

“In a gun-free zone, the only person who is safe is a criminal, a psychopath, or a mass murder,” Webb said. “Everyone else in that gun-free zone is in danger.”

However, several commissioners, including Mark Owens and Jimmy Garris, criticized the ordinance for being too vague and cited issues with it complying with state laws.

One particular concern is a state law banning concealed guns from being carried on “educational properties.”

Commissioners said the top three floors of the Pitt County Administrative Building would not fall under Webb’s proposal because it belongs to the Pitt County Board of Education and is considered “educational property.”

Other commissioners were concerned whether more guns in the workplace could lead to more violence.

Commissioner Tom Coulson dismissed concerns, raising the possibility of a gunman entering the county office building.

“He enters into your [county manager Scott Elliott’s] office, you and everybody in your office is dead. Then before Janis [Gallagher, county attorney] can react, but if Janis was a concealed carry or if you were a concealed carry,” Commissioner Coulson said. “I can guaran-damn-tee you I wouldn’t hesitate.”

Webb cited the 2013 Greenville Walmart shooting where four people were shot despite police response time of less than a minute.

The proposed November 16 public hearing isn’t a guaranteed date.

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