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Quakertown to allow guns in parks?

By Emily Thiel, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 25 2013 09:05:00 PM CST
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. -

By banning the presence of firearms in the Quakertown's parks, lands and facilities, Borough officials believe they are essentially breaking the law.

A Quakertown resident and gun owner brought to the Borough's attention that Quakertown Council cannot prohibit the open carry of a firearm on the Borough property, as stated in Section 6120 of Pennsylvania State law, which triggered a discussion from Council.

"Open Carry" Section 6120 states that "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth."

Quakertown Borough Council discussed at their work meeting Monday evening to change their park ordinance which states that the possession of firearms and weapons are prohibited from their parks, lands and facilities, only to be in line with the state law. In Pennsylvania, the state cannot restrict the transportation or possession of an open carry firearm.

"It's not that we're allowing firearms in the park," Borough Manager, Scott C. McElree, said, to clarify, "We're not prohibiting firearms in the park."  

 As long as a firearm is openly carried, if the vote passes, registered gun owners cannot be prohibited from bringing their firearms on public land.  The gun has to be visible, displayed on the owners body in a "open" fashion; concealed weapons on Borough property without a permit is still a serious criminal offense.

"Council can still prohibit weapons, they just can't prohibit firearms," said McElree.  "We do have an ordinance that does prohibit the discharge of firearms in Borough limits. It's my understanding that is still constitutional for Council to prohibit [the] discharge of firearms."

"There's really nothing we can do about it, this is state law," said Donald E. Rosenberger, Vice President of the Council, "We need to vote on a change in our ordinance."

While Council believes allowing guns in parks was not the intent of the law, they must follow suit in changing the wording of the park ordinance, swearing in as Council members to uphold the laws of the Constitution.  The Borough Manager estimates that the change in the ordinance will be scheduled for vote at the 7:30 p.m. April 3 meeting.