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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — City parks are designed to be fun, safe places that people of all ages can enjoy.

But after a four-year-old boy recently found a gun in a Wilmington Park, some city employees started designing a plan to try and prevent a similar situation in the future.

Every day hundreds of people take in the view at Greenfield Lake, walk their dog at Empie Park or take their kids to Halyburton park to play on the slide.

“We come about two to three times a week,” said one mom, who did not want to giver her name, as she and her family enjoyed a city park. “We love the park.”

But some visitors say that not every visit they have to their favorite green space goes as planned.

“There’s some parks that are just very busy, and you don’t think that you can keep up with your children, and it just makes you very nervous,” the mom said.

To try and make the park experience more enjoyable, city staff along with Wilmington Police and the Parks and Recreation Department have been working together to draw up a street gang prohibition ordinance.

“This is a step that they can take to keep these spaces safe for their intended purpose, which is enjoyment and safety in a place where people can be and not feel intimidation from a gang member,” City Spokesman Dylan Lee said.

Lee says the ordinance will ban all known gang members from stepping foot on any city park or city-owned facility. The hope is that by denying access to areas where kids play, the growth of gangs will slow.

“Gangs like to recruit, so not only would we be eliminating gang activity, but also recruitment of gang members,” Lee said.

Lee says the ordinance will be on the City Council agenda at the Sept. 17 meeting.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest2020

    If they are carrying at least two of the three ingredients used to make a concoction to get high, then they should be targeted the same way that one is targeted for buying too much sudafed.

  • Guest2020

    I agree with you that there shouldn’t be a rule that only allows adults with children to be in city parks. But, you are absolutely wrong when it comes to the Constitution. You don’t have a right to go anywhere you please. What are you smoking?

  • Guest2012

    I’m a WHITE ADULT woman who along with my husband use City and County Parks on (an almost) DAILY basis to walk, cycle and run WITHOUT kids. We use the parks to breathe in the fresh air. To enjoy living. To marvel at nature. To smile at the sounds of children laughing. To hear the thunderclap of a bat strike a young boys baseball as the crowd cheers in unison.

    But, you wrote something that really raised my eyebrows! In your text, when speaking about parks in Brooklyn NEW YORK you said, ” and the big rule is that only adults that are accompanied by children are allowed in the parks.”

    WHAT pipe dream are you smoking?


    WE LOVE the United States Constitution which ALLOWS us to GO ANYWHERE THAT WE PLEASE and we intend to EXERCISE that RIGHT, That PRIVILEDGE EVERYDAY of our God-Given Life.


  • BJones

    There is a much better way to deal with problems that can arise in our parks. When we visit our daughter in Brooklyn, New York there are many parks. They have rules posted and the big rule is that only adults that are accompanied by children are allowed in the parks. That’s pretty simple and nobody has to make any gang determination so it is very easy to enforce.

  • Guest-o-matic

    …because they were selected and arrested based on appearance. You know, hoodies…stuff like that when all they were doing was eating skittles and stuff.

  • Yiff

    Now they’ll start going to the county Parks :O

  • Doug Dexter

    I’m sure this is an simply an honest attempt by the municipality to appeal to gang members obvious proclivity towards being law-abiding, responsible citizens and their obvious respect for authority.

    I have a feeling this is going to be a great success..

  • nofaithnlaw

    This is just as stupid as asking for a “cease fire”! Can it get anymore stupid!

  • Rick Wilson

    What will be the criteria used to identify gang members? If it is possible to easily identify these people, why not just pick them up and ship them to Cuba? They are, after all, “Terrorizing” our parks and neighborhoods. Once there are a couple hundred thousand in custody down there, free them……….Tell the Cuban Government turnabout is fair play. If I remember correctly, Castro ridded his country of criminals doing this very thing in reverse……..

    Seriously, does anyone believe that banning some people will stand up in court because they might commit a crime? Does anyone believe the gang members will abide by this new law? Passing new, unconstitutional laws does not fix the problem……….why not try enforcing the laws we already have instead of trying to legislate problems away? The passing of new laws will not fix the problem………diligent, consistent police work just might……

  • renoGuest

    Gun Free Zone we are all saved………what a superior method of thought.

  • Guest3498

    They can restrict open carry. But then, when do thugs open carry?

    They cannot restrict CWP holders from entire parks, regardless of what the signs say that they have posted. They don’t comply with state law. There are four specific types of “recreational facilities” (generally in parks) that local municipalities can restrict (legal) concealed carry. I suspect that Wilmington, and other municipalities actually are not overly concerned about law abiding citizens who carry for protection only – whether openly or concealed.


    They are the following: a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, and an athletic facility. They cannot declare entire parks off limits. This is current law.

    The legislature has just enacted laws that clarify the definitions, and narrow exactly what can be declared off limits. These take effect on 1 October 2013.

    For example, since some municipalities went overboard and declared entire parks off limits, they now define what “recreational facilities” are and are not. But, then… CWP holders – and people who have been open carrying for a while – generally have working brains, and with rare exception, comply with laws, don’t look for trouble, and don’t create issues.

    The bottom line is that a person biking, jogging, etc. who holds a CWP can carry. Even athletic fields are not off limits when they haven’t been specifically scheduled for a specific event. Wilmington, and other municiplainities will have to actually post the prohibition at the specific areas that are off limits to CWP holders carrying. That will actually be quite intensive to get right, since not all areas will always be off limits. They will probably go with the current “Possession of firearms prohibited” general rule, which has no effect on CWP holders, and not be concerned about posting against CWP carry.

    From the updated law:

    (d) For the purposes of this section, the term “recreational facilities” does not include
    any greenway, designated biking or walking path, an area that is customarily used as a
    walkway or bike path although not specifically designated for such use, open areas or fields
    where athletic events may occur unless the area qualifies as an “athletic field” pursuant to
    subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section, and any other area that is not specifically
    described in subsection (c) of this section.”


  • <Mike Elder

    Being from a large city (Atlanta–3.5 million residents), I have seen major changes in Wilmington within the past 12 years. And, it IS true, that most drug/illicit activities take place in our local parks.
    The local police need to be more conscience about these activities that happen 24/7.. Sunset Park shas become a hub for local, serious drug transaction—-but we never see the police.

  • Guest7

    Why not ban gangs, make it illegal to be a member of a gang?
    Lock them all up and throw away the keys
    Why should law abiding citizens be punished by these low lifes.

  • Vog46

    If we pass an ordinance banning gang members from parks, do we REALLY expect them to follow that ordinance?

    Ok then lets ban all crooked, stupid politicians from local and County offices……..

    AHhhhhhhhhhh……it feels better already – City hall is now a ghost town.


  • Guest2020

    If only…

  • This goes along with the same theory as gun laws. Law abiding citizens are affected by useless laws. Gang members and such do not tend to be very interested in obeying laws. So we may as well keep wasting time, money and effort to propose, write and enact new laws. That’s right more laws that criminals do not give a hoot about. Have a nice day silly lawmakers.

  • RSimmons

    You all need to get out more…The point of the law is not that the gangs will comply, What the ordinance will do is allow police to arrest and remove them from parks. LA and Toronto are two cities that come to mind where they had success.

  • renoGuest

    The real point is a law if you wait on a law to protect you…. you may just wind up hurt or worse dead.The problem with your comment is “it will allow the police to arrest them” really? and on what grounds will they arrest them? will they scream profiling? Tell you what the only thing they will scream if they harm me or my family is with a bullet in their ass.

  • Guest 28449

    Would work about as much as putting signs in the ocean stating No Sharks Allowed in This Area.

  • Vog46

    I think the law says the CWP holder has to secure the weapon in a car or box.
    From your own link:

    “If a unit of local government adopts
    such an ordinance with regard to recreational facilities, then the concealed handgun permittee may, nevertheless, secure the handgun in a locked vehicle within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area within or on the motor vehicle.”

    Or, have I misread something?

  • Guest2343

    I looked at what was posted, and if you keep reading the section you quoted, it goes on to say “For purposes of this section, the term “recreational facilities” includes only the following: a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, and an athletic facility”
    So, as fay as I can tell, the O/P is right. I have a CWP, and I routinely carry in compliance with my permit.

    I know the NH county parks are posted correctly, and say “no concealed firearms in playgrounds, athletic fields, and athletic facilities” at the entrances. This is in compliance with current law. They also say no weapons in their online rules, which of course only applies to non-CWP holders. I certainly don’t want mine getting full of sand in the playground, or getting scratched up when I fall after I break my leg after that jump shot that I couldn’t even make when I was younger, so no problem with that.

    The law changes on October 1 to further restrict municipalities from declaring areas off limits for CCW by permitees.

    “For the purposes of this section, the term “recreational facilities” does not include any greenway, designated biking or walking path, an area that is customarily used as a walkway or bike path although not specifically designated for such use, open areas or fields where athletic events may occur….”


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