Commissioners vote to allow guns in parks

An ordinance goes into effect May 1 that allows licensed gun owners to carry firearms in public parks.

Posted on April 16, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — May 1 marks the date when licensed gun owners will be able to legally carry firearms in Elkhart County parks.

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners signed an ordinance Monday morning to come into compliance with a state statute passed last year. The vote was unanimous despite board president Terry Rodino’s hesitation earlier this month when the ordinance first came to the commissioners for approval.

Rodino said two weeks ago that he does not oppose people carrying guns but doesn’t believe they should be allowed in parks. He stood by those comments Monday.

“I stated that I felt that guns shouldn’t be at a park where people take their children for peace and quiet and relaxation,” he said.

With the ordinance’s approval, the county now falls in line with a state law passed last summer that allows gun owners to carry firearms in certain public places, like parks. The law also limits the ability of local governments to regulate and ban guns in public places with some exceptions, including courtrooms and schools.

Peter Recchio, of Elkhart, was upset to learn that Monday’s meeting did not include a public hearing. He said he attended the meeting to make sure the commissioners comply with state law by voting to approve the ordinance.

“You can’t trample the constitution,” Recchio said after the meeting. “We need to live by it.”

The county’s ordinances continues to ban explosives, knives and objects “that can reasonably be considered a weapon other than firearms” in parks. It also notes that state law prohibits people from firing guns inside parks and bars people from carrying guns on property being used by a school.

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