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Council discusses changing Smithfield’s weapons laws

February 10th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Michael Stewart

SMITHFIELD–Richard Jewkes, a Smithfield resident, says that state laws and city laws on weapons are not lining up, and it could be a problem in the future. Jewkes brought his concerns to the City Council Feb. 9.

Smithfield Chief of Police Johnny McCoy said, “The argument, I believe, rests upon how the city of Smithfield wants to manage the use of firearms within the city and I do believe the state gives power and authority to manage that.

“Weapons are such an important aspect of our community and the Second Amendment provides us that right,” McCoy said. “So it’s a constitutional issue. And I think the mayor and council in their legislative and executive capacities show by their adopting language, as their very own ordinances they are showing to the community members and they are very conscientious of that Second Amendment and very conscientious of our law abiding citizens.”

Jewkes said, “Smithfield City Code says that you can’t possess a firearm. The state law says ‘unless specifically authorized by the legislature by statute, a local authority or state entity may not enact, establish, or enforce any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy pertaining to firearms that in any way inhibits or inflicts the possession or use of firearms.’”

McCoy said, “We’re not restricting anything when it comes to firearms. What we are doing is recognizing that there are some responsibilities and we’re putting that in the ordinance. The statute allows that. The state legislators permit that.

“We are not limiting anything of what the statute has put in place. We are adopting the very same language and if it were to change, we would have to come back and include that language,” said McCoy.

“If the state makes some changes, whether it’s this or in other areas, we need to be on top of it,” said Mayor Darrell Simmons.

The decision regarding this topic was to have lawyer Bruce Jorgensen read through the city’s ordinance to make sure it is in line with state code. The topic will be further discussed in the next council meeting.

The mayor and council thanked Jewkes for his concern about the weapons ordinance and McCoy committed himself to stay up-to-date on the ordinances and statutes to better his role as chief.


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