Charleston County Parks removes ‘no concealable weapons allowed’ signs

Updated: Aug. 29, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - “No concealable weapons allowed” signs have been removed from all Charleston County Parks after there has been back and forth from the public about their constitutionality.

Representative Matthew “Matt” Leber, of District 116, said he got involved in the effort to remove the signs because they were unlawful, and violated Charleston County Citizens’ Second Amendment right.

However, Representative Wendell Gilliard, of District 111, said he thinks the signs belong in Charleston County Parks because they could save lives.

Currently, the Charleston County Parks and Recreation’s firearm policy is listed online as “no person in any park or recreation area shall carry, fire or discharge any gun, pistol, firearm, or firearm replica without a permit and then only in the designated area for such activity.” However, the park guidelines at least two Charleston County Parks still list firearms as “prohibited.”

Charleston Police Department officials said, at least for the two county parks in their jurisdiction, the state law takes precedence over Charleston County Parks and Recreation’s rules, and people can lawfully possess a firearm throughout the parks.

Leber said prior to the department removing the signs, he worked to withhold a portion of their funding, and several appointments to their commission.

“It took that. It took affecting their budget and affecting their jobs for them to say, ‘OK we’ll take the signs down,” Leber said.

He said by posting these signs, Charleston County Parks and Recreation circumvented the General Assembly by writing gun laws for themselves.

“They fashioned themselves lawmakers with the stroke of a pen, denying a constitutional right,” Leber said.

However, Gilliard said he gives kudos to the parks department for their attempt to prevent gun violence by posting these signs.

“Whether they circumvented the law or not, it was with good intentions, nothing is wrong with that,” Gilliard said.

He said the signs could have saved lives, and if he could put them everywhere, he would.

“We can’t walk in stores, bad enough, we can’t walk in malls, bad enough, we can’t sit down in a church and worship anymore, bad enough, why not have those signs in parks?” Gilliard said.

Charleston County Parks and Recreation declined a request to comment or interview. Although they did not provide a specific reason for removing the signs, Leber is celebrating their removal as a victory.