Council amends law to allow firearms in parks, pending final approval

Geoff Paddock said only police officers should carry firearms in parks

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne City Council voted to amend a law to allow firearms in city parks. The Council voted 6-3 to remove the language prohibiting firearms, pending final approval.

Geoff Paddock
Geoff Paddock

Last week Councilman Jason Arp (R-4th) asked that the city ordinance that prohibits firearms in public places like city parks be updated to jive with state law. Arp said the city code is not consistent with the state law, which allows legally licensed gun owners to carry firearms in a park. He told NewsChannel 15 that allowing firearms at parks will give legally licensed gun owners an opportunity to protect themselves, and help stop violent crimes – especially against women.

In a letter released to the media on Tuesday, though, Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th) said the council “should not take any action that would make our residents feel less safe in our public parks.”

Paddock said “many individuals” believe that the council would be “letting them down” by considering Arp’s proposal – “even though this 2011 state law allowing fire arms and other weapons into city parks supersedes the local ordinance and makes our law invalid.” Paddock said the city has complied with the state law since it was enacted.

Paddock said the matter, which he said he appreciated Arp bringing up, should be discussed by the State Legislature. He said it is inappropriate for the state to usurp its authority in the matter of local public safety.

Jason Arp
Jason Arp

Paddock said he has been contacted by “many” residents in his district, and said they are “overwhelmingly opposed” to lifting firearm restrictions in public parks. Paddock, who doubles as the executive director of Headwaters Park, said residents who visit city parks “are not comfortable” with guns and weapons there. “It does not provide a safe haven,” he said, and called the state law “detrimental” to the city’s right to pass public protection legislation.

“Our award winning parks are safe, and my constituents do not want to see individuals roaming them with weapons,” Paddock said. “Firearms in parks should only be in the possession of well trained law enforcement officers. This is not an issue about gun rights. This is an issue about public safety.”

Paddock voted against Arp’s measure. He also urged the State Legislature to discuss the issue in the next session of the General Assembly.

The proposal will be voted for final approval on Tuesday October 24.