In a last-minute decision, the North Carolina town Leland reversed their temporary ban on the “transportation or possession, or the sale or purchase of any dangerous weapon or substance, while off one’s own premises.”
The weapons ban was supposed to go into effect for the duration of hurricane Florence. Although initial projections have varied, weather experts expect hurricane Florence to strike land as a Category 2 storm, with winds over 100 miles per hour.
It may have been softer weather predictions that influenced the town leadership, or it may have been the threat of litigation. Shortly after announcing the emergency protocol the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation filed a demand letter to repeal the likely illegal gun ban.
“Disasters and potential disasters are ‘prima facia’ reasons to protect the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes, including self-defense and hunting,” said legal council Ray DiGuiseppe (.pdf). “They are not political opportunities to restrict these crucial constitutional rights.
“Leland’s State of Emergency Notice should immediately be amended to strike the offending language creating this unlawful and unconstitutional weapons prohibition,” he added.
North Carolina law allows local municipalities to enact restrictions such as curfews during emergencies and natural disasters. But the law specifically prohibits towns from placing restrictions on “lawfully possessed firearms or ammunition.”
As a result, the town of Leland revised the policy, saying “the transportation or possession, or the sale or purchase of dangerous weapons or substances, while off one’s own premises, is prohibited. This prohibition and restriction does not apply to lawfully possessed firearms or ammunition.”
“So, due the hurricane, unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition are now doubly-unlawful,” asked one person on the Leland Facebook page. “Brilliant.”
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It would seem that yes, the possession of unlawfully possessed dangerous weapons and substances is prohibited for the duration of the storm. This policy does not affect those who have the responsibility for the preservation of the public’s health, safety, or welfare.
Other restrictions include a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, mandatory evacuation for mobile and substandard homes and properties in low-lying and flood-prone areas and a ban against the consumption of alcohol outside the home, all in effect now.
Full details about the declared state of emergency can be found on the town of Leland website.