Without further (Führer?) ado, here’s the money shot from Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens: “I do have great respect for the constitutional right of citizens to possess and bear arms. But I do believe it would be unwise and imprudent for firearms to be carried into the [North Carolina] State Fair, and if there is some way I can interpret these statutes to prohibit that, I will.” That could well be the most bald-faced example of anti-gun judicial activism we’ve ever encountered. Judge Stephens wasn’t shy about the motivation behind his gun ban bias . . .
Before announcing his decision, Stephens cited his stint as a U.S. Marine Corps officer, saying he had seen many weapons fired intentionally and many fired accidentally. He also noted that the law explicitly allows him to carry a gun in the courthouse, but that he had chosen not to, because the sheriff provided security and because the one way he knew there would not be gun violence in his courtroom was to make sure there were no guns in it.
He also said that while the idea of being allowed to carry guns might make the fair more attractive for some, it could have a chilling affect on attendance by scaring away others.
OK, the background . . .
Opponents of the fair’s gun ban are suing Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler to force his department to allow people with valid concealed-carry permits to take handguns onto the fairgrounds and its parking areas. They say a law passed last year makes the fair’s ban illegal, and were asking Monday for a temporary injunction to allow them to bring their guns in this year while Stephens considered the lawsuit.
He not only disagreed but called the law a “quagmire” and signaled that he was inclined to rule against the gun rights activists in the full lawsuit . . .
During a news conference Monday, Troxler said the gun ban is meant to reduce the risk of an accident.
“We do believe that we have a unique mixture of crowds, children, rides and animals here and that minimizing the risk is just not throwing the possibility of an accidental discharge into that mix,” he said.
And how many of those have there been since the Fair began in 1853, before firearms were banned? * crickets chirping * Violent attacks at state fairs? Plenty. Here’s an example [via myfoxtampabay.com]:
A disturbing picture is emerging about events Friday night that led to the Florida State Fair shutting down early.
Authorities describe scenes where hundreds of teens went on a chaotic spree of stampeding, shoving, and fighting.
The situation was so out of control, and deputies were so overwhelmed and outmatched, that the commander on the scene asked fair officials to shut the whole thing down.
“The commander said it was one of the worst things he’s seen in his law enforcement career, and it’s why he made the decision he made, and he was adamant about it. There was no room in his mind to let it go any longer,” said Colonel Jim Previtera, with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Previtera called the situation “wilding,” a slang term that refers to groups of people going around threatening, robbing, or attacking others.
The sheriff’s office estimates that around 200 to 300 people were involved in the stampeding. They eventually ejected 99 people, and arrested 12.
Previtera said the sheriff’s office thought it was prepared because the events that unfolded have become a “tradition” of sorts among teens on the first Friday night of the fair. He said long-timers at the sheriff’s office say the “wilding” has gone on as far back as the 90s.
Last year, 68 people were ejected when a similar scene unfolded.
Anyway, while Grass Roots North Carolina reacted to the ruling by announcing that they will return to the legislature to clarify their intention to allow legal carry at the State Fair, Tar Heel State voters need to take the anti-ballistic bureaucrats to the proverbial woodshed (i.e. vote them out of office and yank the judge off the bench).