Update on North Carolina “Martial Law”: Interview with King, North Carolina Police Chief Paula May: Sympathetic with Civil Liberties Concerns, but State of Emergency was Imposed on Her by Mayor and City Council

I just spoke with King , North Carolina Chief of Police Paula May regarding the “state of emergency” , or martial law as it appeared, that was briefly imposed there. Rather than foisting me off to a PIO, she personally took my call and in a welcome display of candor by law enforcement explained that she was merely implementing the law imposed by the Mayor and the City Council of King County in an action they took that was “above her pay grade.”

Chief May emphasized that most residents were particularly concerned about potential Second Amendment violations, and stated she shared those concerns, and that she personally valued the upholding of civil liberties by her department in her community.  She came off as intelligent and sincere.

The King, North Carolina police chief further clarified that it was not just snow that caused the city council’s declaration of a state of emergency, but that many trees were uprooted and lying across the road, and soft ground was commonplace, causing safety concerns for people driving at night.  The gun and alcohol provisions are apparently automatically lumped in with the curfew and driving restrictions once the state of emergency was declared by the county officials under relevant North Carolina statutes.

Chief May stressed that she specifically had her officers attempt to warn motorists about the dangers,  rather than take enforcement action against them.  No one was cited during the state of emergency.

The applicable statutes are North Carolina General Laws 14-288.7 and 14-288.12.

Sounds like the real culprit here may be the North Carolina state legislature in enacting an unnecessarily broad set of laws–laws that could at the very least be violations of the Second Amendment.

We’ll have more once I read the statutes and get ahold of  King County’s mayor and city council members.  Seems as if instead of this state of emergency, the council could simply have stepped up law enforcement and other emergency worker presence to deal with the driving dangers with a scalpel rather than a meat cleaver.

7 responses to “Update on North Carolina “Martial Law”: Interview with King, North Carolina Police Chief Paula May: Sympathetic with Civil Liberties Concerns, but State of Emergency was Imposed on Her by Mayor and City Council

  1. May is totally guilty, she should be suspended. If the wackjob mayor gave unlawful orders and she followed them then she is to blame. So are her cops. I so wish someone had the balls to get cited and test this and kill it in the supreme court. Next time perhaps the mayor will also want the guns confiscated and then since there is no respect for rights lets just start shooting people on the street after curfew, should we start with blacks or whites.

  2. Pingback: Carolina Politics Online » Who Gave the King Police Chief Martial Law Authority?

  3. Charlotte Taylor

    Our forefathers must be turning over in their graves or standing straight up in their caskets at the stupidity of what they squired and sired! They fought and gave their lives to give us peace and the constitution and all the trimmings that went with it to keep us free – and we let some power hungry maniac take our rights away from us!?!

  4. I agree Charlotte. I’ll be writing a follow up article that details the legal issues. Bottom line is the Mayor of King. Chief May was not just following orders, she was made the fall guy because the mayor did not issue a specific proclamation where he could have narrowed down the intrusions caused by this type of State of Emergency. Instead, he used a boilerplate Proclamation from 1988, meant to apply to riots or terror attacks. It seems to me they could have handled the public safety issues without declaring the state of emergency, and even if the SOE was declared, it was not required to impose the limits they imposed.

    In any event, I would advise all you North Carolinians to get rid of NC Gen Law 14-288.7. That’s the law that makes gun sales or transport illegal in all states of emergency.

    The curfew and the alcohol provisions were definitely not required legally, and the Chief agrees. Sounds like the mayor and the council acted stupidly, when they should have figured out how they could deal with the driving dangers without the complete usurption of civil liberties.

    Can you imagine what would happen in DC and the east during these storms now if someone
    were to implement a law in this fashion?

    Thanks to you and bMills for your comments.

  5. If i recall the GS 14-288.12 uses the words “may enact”. Not SHALL ENACT. The Mayor, Council, and Chief failed to read careful enough. They had a choice but may not have known it.

    • Thomas, thanks for your comment. I agree. They argue that .7 speaks about the gun restrictions applying in all SOEs. But the law is unclear, imho. .7 may only apply to state-declared SEOs. It is abundantly clear, though, as you say, that they didn’t have to impose curfews or the liquor restrictions. Here’s a link to .12. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_14/GS_14-288.12.html. From there you can read the other statutes.

      And here’s a link to the King City municipal code: http://library1.municode.com/default-test/home.htm?infobase=13143&doc_action=whatsnew

      I got involved in a breaking political news issue here in Colorado, but still plan to write a sort of morning after, how to do it better next time piece shortly. In any event, .7 needs to be repealed. I believe it is unconstitutional but as an Ex-Lawyer, I can tell you it would be much easier to get the NC legislature to get it off the books to remove the ambiguity that let’s lazy dumbos like mayor Warren to go off half-cocked.

  6. Pingback: DA Mark Hurlbert, Colo. State Senate Race, and Errata « Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer

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