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NASHVILLE — Nash County commissioners on Monday unanimously affirmed their support for citizens’ right to carry concealed weapons legally, but rejected a more permissive resolution suggested last month.
Spring Hope resident Allen Chesser submitted a draft resolution to the board in July. The document called for a state constitutional amendment that would eliminate any regulation of concealed weapons. It also called for commissioners to “affirm their opposition” to any legislation or executive order infringing on gun rights and to “to withhold county funding or monies ... used for the purpose of violating those rights.”
Commissioners expressed support for the Second Amendment but were cautious of Chesser’s resolution. Board Chairman Robbie Davis appointed Vice Chairman Wayne Outlaw, Commissioner Fred Belfield and County Attorney Vince Durham to meet with Chesser and draft another resolution.
In introducing their new resolution, Outlaw said, “It’s a pleasure for me reaffirming the right of the people to carry lawful firearms.”
The county’s resolution affirms the commissioners’ oath to obey and defend the laws and constitutions of the state and country, including the Second Amendment.
But it also points out that the state constitution draws a clear distinction between the right of people to bear arms and the state’s right to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons. It further notes that state law preempts local ordinances to provide a “uniform system for the regulation of legally carrying a concealed handgun.”
The resolution then states the commissioners’ position simply as affirming their “support of the right of North Carolina citizens to carry a concealed handgun so long as they are properly permitted or otherwise allowed” under state law.
“We followed the law in putting this together,” Belfield said. “I was satisfied the way we did it. We put together a good resolution following the law and I’m here to support it.”
“I believe the current resolution complies with the law, the statutes and the Constitution,” Durham said.
“If the law is to be changed,” Outlaw added, “it’s not in our hands. This deals with the current law.”
“Tabling it for a month brought it to a much better place than taking action on it last month,” Davis observed.
After approving the resolution, the board directed it be sent to legislators representing Nash County.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE REGION
In other business, Andy Hagy, the county’s economic development director, introduced the board to Ryan Combs, executive director of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership.
Nash recently became the 12th county to join the economic development organization, whose mission, Combs said, is to promote the Triangle region globally and “promote brand recognition for the Research Triangle.”
“It’s an excellent time for Nash County to join forces with RTRP,” Combs said. “We’re strong regionally and that’s what sells.”
Until the county dropped out and returned to promoting its own economic development, Nash had been part of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, which marketed Nash and Edgecombe counties and participating municipalities.
Besides the broader reach and focus, Combs said, the difference between the two organizations is that Nash County will handle its own development.
“We don’t work projects,” he said. “We focus on marketing our region externally. We spend a lot of time and energy building relationships with other folks who can help us grow. We’re talking in broad terms. Our job is to make sure we put Nash County and the Research Triangle on the map.”
“It can work well if it’s done with cooperation,” Belfield agreed. “It can work well if we work it. I think it can be a success.”
“We’re trying to complement what Nash County is doing,” Combs said. “We’re working hard to do the work you expect us to do.”
Combs said the cost to the county is 30 cents per capita. He said the county will have three members on the RTRP board: Davis, Hagy and a representative of a Nash County business. Commissioners formally appointed Davis and Hagy to the board and Outlaw later said he also wanted County Manager Zee Lamb to serve as a county representative in an ex officio capacity.
“We look forward to you helping us to make (the county’s effort) successful,” Davis told Combs.
Later during the monthly meeting, Hagy announced the addition of a new website promoting Nash County economic development.
The board also voted to allow the district attorney to use the county building in Rocky Mount once occupied by the Carolinas Gateway Partnership.
At the end of the meeting, commissioners held a moment of silence in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis.