FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A man carrying a gun in his belt’s holster at Fowler Park had a lot of concerned parents calling the authorities.
“We were getting a call every five minutes,” said Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident unfolded at the United Futbol Academy soccer field at Fowler Park on Monday and Tuesday, April 21 and April 22. The man walked up to the spectator benches and stood there with his gun in his holster in his belt — getting a lot of people’s attention.
“This person claims to have been exercising at the park while carrying a knife on Monday and then returning with a firearm on Tuesday,” said a United Futbol Academy board member in a news release to parents. “We need to understand that they don’t want to harm anyone and it’s best to just leave them alone, don’t engage them and hope they move on.”
The sheriff’s office has increased patrols at the park, not for the man, but to assure parents they are in the park, Rainwater said.
“A park is one of those places where you can openly carry a weapon if you do have a permit,” Rainwater said. “A lot of parents with their kids at Fowler Park don’t understand that in Georgia you do have that right.”
Iggy Moleka, a United Futbol Academy executive board member, said that training was canceled on Wednesday, April 23, but would resume on April 24.
“United Futbol Academy is totally neutral on this Second Amendment,” Moleka said in an email to the Forsyth Herald. “Our concern is our kids and our members.”
Rainwater said it’s unclear why the man was at the park, but he did not break the law.
“He has not pulled the gun out,” Rainwater said. “He’s walking around the park with a gun in the holster on the belt.”
Rainwater said the law that covers carrying guns in public places such as parks dates back to 2010.
But last week, licensed gun owners in Georgia were given more leeway to carry their weapons in places that include bars, schools, churches and some government buildings.
Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday, April 23, signed the state’s “Safe Carry Protection Act,”
which some critics call the “guns everywhere bill.”
The new law goes into effect July 1 and allows licensed gun owners in the state and visitors from 28 other states to bring a gun into a bar without restrictions and carry a firearm into some government buildings that don’t have security measures.
It also allows school districts to decide whether they want some employees to carry a firearm and religious leaders to decide whether to allow licensed gun owners at their church, synagogue or mosque.