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Spartanburg City Council prohibits open carry of firearms at events requiring a permit

Downtown Spartanburg SC

Downtown Spartanburg. Open carry of firearms will not be allowed at events in Spartanburg that require a permit; council agreed to the ordinance change Sept. 27. Ryan Gilchrest/Staff

SPARTANBURG — Open carry of firearms will not be allowed at events in Spartanburg that require a permit.

City Council agreed Sept. 27 to prohibit open carry of firearms by amending an ordinance that previously received a first reading on Sept. 13. Final approval came as part of the consent agenda, which is reserved for unanimous items not requiring further discussion.

Municipalities across the state were given flexibility through the Statehouse's Open Carry with Training Act approved earlier this year to regulate open carry at permitted events. The amended ordinance prohibits open carry at organized festivals, parades and special events on sidewalks, streets and public rights of way that require a city permit.

The city had already prohibited the carrying of firearms at events. The city's code was amended to include open carry.

"I think it's a common sense move and ensures that we create a family friendly environment," City Councilman Jamie Fulmer told The Post and Courier. "State law allows us the flexibility to address these types of events that works best for the citizens of the city and I think we were in unified agreement this was an appropriate approach."

The move is not designed to prevent freedom of assembly or complicate the permitting process for city events, said City Manager Chris Story. The process for permitting larger events is more extensive.

Some City Council members expressed concerns on Sept. 13 whether the prohibition on open carry would apply to Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg. Unless permitted events are held at the square, the ban on open carry would not apply.

City Councilman Jerome Rice said the ban on open carry at permitted events will help ensure public safety.

"Our thought process about city events is they are family friendly and we don't want anyone to be caught off guard or put in a situation at a family event with kids and have people with open carry," Rice said. "We don't want someone to be alarmed or on edge with someone carrying a weapon out with kids in the area."

Rice said the decision made by City Council is not an infringement on anyone's constitutional right to carry a weapon. Based on state law, Rice said the city used its option to limit open carry at permitted events.

City police department spokesman Maj. Art Littlejohn said since the open carry law went into effect in August there have been no issues.

"We haven't had any incidents that caused any issues for us as far open carry goes," Littlejohn said. "When it comes to law enforcement, we adapt to whatever policies and laws are out there. As law enforcement, we adapt to those. So far, we haven't seen any changes on how we respond and will deal with it based on what the law says."

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