Fort Wayne changes law banning firearms from public parks

October 20, 2016

The Fort Wayne City Council has approved changes to a city ordinance that bans firearms from city parks.

The Fort Wayne City Council voted 6-3 to remove firearms from a list of prohibited items that includes paint ball guns, BB guns and fireworks, The Journal Gazette reported.

Councilman Jason Arp proposed the changes. He and supporters said the update is needed to bring the ordinance into line with state law and to avoid possible future legal fees.

"The reason why is it is a violation to Indiana Code 35-47-11.1, which prohibits local units from the regulation of firearms," Arp told the council.

City attorney Carol Helton said changing to the law won't impact city policy because changes to Indiana law in 2011 regarding the carrying of firearms in public spaces supersede local ordinances.

"Because our ordinance predates the adoption of the state law, it is not a violation of the state law for that ordinance to remain as written," Helton said, citing the 2013 case Dykstra v. City of Hammond.

Councilman Geoff Paddock voted against the change, arguing his constituents are overwhelmingly against lifting the firearm restrictions and easing regulations on other weapons that could be used in city parks.

"Whether we voted yes or no for this, the state law is the state law, and the only way that can be changed is if you get ahold of your state representative," said councilman Tom Didier. "So I'm voting yes, but it's only for the technicality... because the law, is the law, is the law."


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