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Fort Wayne City Council Revises Ordinance Allowing Guns In Parks

Zach Bernard/WBOI News

A proposal in Fort Wayne City Council wanting to change a state ordinance prohibiting guns in city parks passed Tuesday night with a 6-3 vote.

The old local ordinance prohibited guns of any kind in city parks.

In 2011, the Indiana legislature voted to allow firearms in local parks, and several council members argued the state law voided the former ordinance.

Some council members had concerns about the state law, like Councilman Geoff Paddock, who voted against amending the local ordinance.

“This bill should not have been passed, in my view,” said Paddock. “This is something that Fort Wayne and Indianapolis and Kendallville and Auburn and New Haven should make on their own; they should decide what is the best for public safety in their own public parks.”

Democratic councilman Glynn Hines also voted against it, as did Republican Russ Jehl, who says he, quote, doesn’t like bringing guns and children closer together.

Nonetheless, the proposal passed 6-3. Proponents, like local resident Dawn Hillyer, say having a gun in parks would not only empower her, but help her feel safer at night.

“There’s definitely a demand. If you don’t want to carry, don’t,” said Hillyer. “You’ll never know that I carry unless I’m in a situation where you have to find out, and shame on you. It’s not for bad things.”

Several legal experts also commented, saying that no matter how the council voted on the measure, the state’s ruling would supersede any enforcement of the old ordinance.

They note that anyone who carries a gun in parks still needs a personal protection permit.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered, and hosted Morning Edition for the past few years. In 2022, he was promoted to Content Director.
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