Link Kennesaw throws out rule against weapons in parks By BILL HENDRICK The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 08/09/07 Attorneys for the city of Kennesaw, where residents are required by law to own and maintain a firearm, said Thursday they are asking local officials to throw out an ordinance that bans people from toting guns in city parks. The gun-in-parks ordinance violates state law, which preempts the Kennesaw ordinance, said Stuart Sims, an attorney for the City of Kennesaw. He said the recommendation was made to comply with a Georgia law that stipulates only the state has the power to determine where guns may be carried or transported. The action by Kennesaw's attorneys came in response to a letter from firearms right organization GeorgiaCarry.org, which pointed out that the revised state law preempted the council's prohibition on guns in parks. He said in a letter to GeorgiaCarry.org's attorney, John Monroe of Roswell, that the mayor and City Council of Kennesaw have agreed to consider repealing the ordinance and that therefore, "no legal action is necessary to cure this contradiction between the preempting state statute and this city ordinance" and that Kennesaw now considers "this matter closed." Fred Bentley Jr., of the Marietta-based Bentley, Bentley & Bentley law firm that represents the City of Kennesaw, said he did not know how long the Kennesaw ordinance has been on the books but the Georgia Legislature has reserved the right for itself to determine where firearms can be carried. "The state law says the state is the only one that can control where weapons are controlled," Bentley said. "The city's powers come through the sate. Now we are trying to avoid a lawsuit. The city is not happy about it." GeorgiaCarry.org President Ed Stone said "we believe it is important for Kennesaw and other cities to comply" with state law. "Georgians should not have to research the minutiae of local ordinances while visiting cities and counties throughout Georgia," he said. Since the city of Kennesaw has complied with his group's demands, he said no legal action will be taken. He said his group has similar litigation against Coweta County pending in the Georgia Court of Appeals. Bentley said the city of Kennesaw believes "it is in the best interest of the city to be able to decide where guns can be carried, to protect children. We believe the state law is absolutely wrong, that you ought to be able to ban guns from parks. We don't want to have guns in parks. It's not safe." He said he couldn't remember when or why the Kennesaw ordinance was passed but he thought it was in response to a parent toting a gun at a football or basketball game "The city certainly still believes in upholding the right to bear arms," Bentley said. "But the state law says no city or county may pass an ordinance with respect to guns in pubic places." He said the city had been threatened by a federal court suit "to challenge our right to control weapons in city parks." Bentley said it is his understanding that even when the ordinance is repealed, law enforcement officers and people who have obtained permits to carry guns will be allowed to do so in city parks. The city ordinance bans firearms or knives, said Sims, who works for the Bentley firm. Monroe said the state law allows cities and counties to regulate the discharging of firearms, the carrying of firearms by their own employees, and allows cities to require heads of households to own firearms. "Other than that," Monroe said, "state law doesn't permit firearm regulation in any way at all." He said GeorgiaCarry.org is a nonprofit group whose members believe in the right to keep and bear arms. He said his letter to Kennesaw attorneys, which led to their appeal to city officials, had nothing to do with the 1982 Kennesaw law requiring heads of households to own firearms.