Parks Department responds to gun proposal

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A city councilman wants to allow handguns in the city’s parks because he said it will improve safety. The Parks Department said its nationally renowned parks are already safe.

The Board of Park Commissioners is concerned about this proposal, and according to them so are citizens.

“I have not had one single comment in favor of this,” Board Vice President Pamela Kelly said.

Two days after Fort Wayne Councilman Jason Arp proposed updating a city ordinance to allow licensed gun owners to carry in city parks, The Parks Department is responding. The issue was brought up at Thursday’s Park Board meeting.

“We obviously don’t encourage weapons in any park,” Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Director Al Moll said.

When Arp talked to NewsChannel 15 after the proposal he said the main point is to increase safety for park-goers.

“Our park system is renowned nationally,” Moll said. “It’s a safe place to be.”

In 2011, the state updated its law allowing firearms in state parks. Right now the local ordinance does not allow guns within 500 feet of parks unless special permission is given by the department. The ordinance also bans fireworks, BB guns, slingshots and paintball guns.

“If adults are allowed to carry weapons it could allow children to be able to use paintball guns, BB guns, multiple other issues that make the safety of our parks a concern,” Kelly said.

The Parks Department and Board have gotten emails and phone calls from people since Arp’s proposal.

“I’m getting contacted by a variety of citizens concerned about that type of encouragement,” Moll said.

“[Citizens who contacted her] are horrified to think people would be allowed to carry weapons in our parks,” Kelly said.

The proposal will be discussed at next week’s council meeting. That will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Citizens Square on Tuesday.Oct. 18.