Are guns prohibited in Ithaca’s parks? Should they be?

In the wake of last month’s shooting at a packed Latin Night event at the gay Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the police chief of Brighton, New York, put up signs at parks warning that firearms are prohibited. We looked into whether they are in Ithaca, too.

"No firearms in park," says a sign at Stewart Park. 14850 Photo.

“No firearms in park,” says a sign at Stewart Park. 14850 Photo.

Ithaca Police Department public information officer Jamie Williamson referred me to section § 336-22 of Ithaca City Code, saying it “outlines firearms regulations in city parks,” though its “No person shall carry, transport or possess any firearm of any nature in the park” provision only pertains to Stewart Park. (The code goes on to say that the prohibition “shall not apply to duly constituted peace officers” and that archery equipment, when supervised for an Ithaca Youth Bureau program, is exempt.)

When I approached City of Ithaca acting mayor Deborah Mohlenhoff for comment, she speculated that firearms aren’t allowed in Stewart Park because “there used to be a zoo in Stewart Park,” which she says “is the same reason there are no dogs allowed in Stewart Park currently.” (City officials are considering lifting the “no dogs” prohibition, which is widely ignored and not really enforced.) “It’s also technically a bird sanctuary as well,” Deb added. Mayor Svante Myrick and IPD chief John Barber didn’t respond when I asked for their thoughts.

There’s no similar signage at other City of Ithaca parks. Dewitt Park, at the corner of Cayuga and Buffalo Streets, just has signs warning that the park closes at 10pm and is a “smoke-free park.”

“Do we have issues with firearms in parks?” Deb muses. “I don’t think so.” Mark Henderson, chief of police in Brighton, near Rochester, thinks a prohibition is in order. What do you think?

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