Swings, slides, sandboxes--and Smith & Wessons?
New Baltimore reversed a ban this week on firearms and ammunition in the city parks after reviewing Michigan laws, according to city officials.
"There's an open-carry law and pretty much our ordinance was not in compliance with state law," City Clerk Marcia Shinska said.
Mayor Larry Smith said the issue arose when Eastpointe-based gun rights nonprofit, Michigan Open Carry Inc., previously sought permission to march in the privately ran summertime Fishfly Festival Parade hosted by Bay-rama.
"They contacted me last year and wanted to get a spot in the parade for our festival and I just turned them down," Smith said.
The mayor, a retired police officer who teaches a CCW course outside New Baltimore, said the city then revisited its firearm ordinance. While pistols are still banned in certain places, such as courtrooms, theaters, hospitals and day cares under state law, they are permitted in city parks if they are legally obtained and carried, according to the city.
However, the new ordinance clearly states that other items, such as air guns and trapping devices are prohibited unless brought in by an authorized city employee.
Michigan Open Carry Vice President Rob Harris said he was pleased to learn the city will allow concealed weapons in the parks.
"Any time a local city reviews its ordinance to bring it in compliance with state law, it’s a good thing," Harris said.
Citing an early 1990s preemptive law as basis for open carrying, Harris said the group wants to change the public perception of gun carriers. That image would not mirror ones seen on the nightly news in crime stories.
"Our mission is to bring gun ownership out of the closet and let the citizens of Michigan see that good people also carry guns to protect their families,” he said.
The group has protested other cities that restricted access to open carrying in the past by appearing at public events with holstered guns on them. Perhaps most notably in metro Detroit, Michigan Open Carry called Royal Oak's handgun restriction at the popular Arts, Beats and Eats festival unlawful. The controversial matter ultimately ended with the city allowing concealed weapons at the Labor Day event.
Despite concerns about its repercussions, a majority of City Council officially approved the ordinance Monday night.
Police Chief Tim Wiley said the city is complying with complex Michigan handgun laws.
"There isn't any legislation in place that you can't open carry," Wiley said Tuesday. "There's no designation to say that you can't--so therefore, you can."
Wiley said regulating the updated ordinance should not be problematic because handgun carriers still need follow public safety laws, such as those requiring holster use.
"It's not: Just Welcome to the Wild, Wild West," he said.