CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 Monday to eliminate gun restrictions for concealed carry permit holders in most parks.

The amendment allows residents with approved concealed carry permits to carry guns in parks. But permit holders cannot carry guns on playgrounds, recreation centers or greenways on property leased by the county from a school.

State statutes prohibit citizens from bringing guns onto school property.

Commissioners in support of the move said it puts the county in line with a 2011 state statute that allows concealed gun permit holders to carry handguns anywhere in parks.

The move to allow guns in parks came after commissioners received dozens of emails from permit holders and gun rights advocates complaining that a proposed ordinance from county staff was too restrictive.

These folks have gone above and beyond in order to obtain the concealed carry permit, said Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour. These are not gunslingers; these are not criminals.

About 19,000 county residents have concealed carry permits. Mecklenburg County residents who wish to be approved for concealed carry have to undergo background checks and firearms training classes at the sheriff s office.

Last month, Ridenhour offered an amendment that would bar permit holders from carrying concealed weapons only at playgrounds, athletic fields, gyms or swimming pools. He said it was a gesture of compromise to commissioners leery about concealed carry guns in parks.

But that amendment deadlocked at 4-4 with one commissioner absent.

Commissioner Trevor Fuller, one of two who voted against the amendment Tuesday, said he wished the board had approved some of the restrictions offered up by Ridenhour.

The problem I have is when a lot of people are together at a sporting event of some kind, I just think it s a bad mix to have any weapons involved, Fuller said.

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