San Mateo County’s ban on firearms in its parks and recreation areas is legal, according to a state appellate court ruling issued Monday.
The California Court of Appeal upheld the county’s ban over arguments by the Calguns Foundation and National Rifle Association that park-goers with permits to carry concealed weapons should be allowed to do so in any of the county’s 17 parks and recreation areas.
Don Horsley, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, praised the court for its stance, saying that nobody needs to carry a weapon in places where non-armed visitors mixing with those armed could prove dangerous.
“Our parks are a refuge not only for wildlife but for visitors,” Horsley said. “The presence of guns ramps up the chances of deadly accidents and no one should have to worry that just around the corner some hiker with a gun is going to mistake you for a mountain lion.”
The fracas over guns in the parks began in 2011 when ban opponents sued on the basis it is preempted by state law. A county judge upheld the ban in July 2012 and the suit backers appealed. Monday’s ruling from that appeal holds that the prohibition very narrowly addressed only parks and recreation areas and is therefore different than other, broader bans that have not held up in court.
Chief County Counsel John Beiers called the ruling a “big victory” for all local government agencies statewide that want the police power to restrict firearms.
“The country has seen that beating the NRA even post-Newtown is not easy, so we are very pleased with the outcome,” Beiers said in a prepared statement, referencing the deadly school shooting last year.