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Thread: Who has jurisdiction over the beach?

  1. #1
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Columbia, in the Peoples Republic of Murderland

    Who has jurisdiction over the beach?

    I went to Nags Head last weekend, and was wondering if anyone knows who claims ownership/jurisdiction over the public beaches there. Would it be the City of Nags Head? Is it part of the National Seashore? Is it State property?

    There were a lot of signs about the rules of the beach (no glass bottles, no vehicles, stay off the dunes, etc) but nothing about firearms, or no reference to who actually owned it.

    If the City owns the beach, then OC would be legal. If the beach is a National Seashore area, I'm pretty sure OC is good, but if it's a NC state park, then any form of carry is a no-go.

    We were there in the late afternoon (after 5pm) so there were no lifeguards on duty, and we didn't see any ATV-mounted cops like you sometimes see in the daytime, so there was nobody to ask...

  2. #2
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Columbia, in the Peoples Republic of Murderland
    OK, after searching MuniCode, I found this in the Town Ordinances of Nags Head:

    Sec. 26-2. Firearms and explosives.
    (a) Discharge in town restricted. It shall be unlawful for any person to fire or discharge shotguns, rifles, pistols or any other firearm, or discharge any explosive device, by whatever name called, within the corporate limits of the town. The town firing range shall be excluded from this section.
    (b) Enforcement. Subsection (a) of this section is enforceable by the town police department.
    (c) Exceptions. The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to:
    (1) Police officers and other duly authorized police and peace officers of the county, state and the United States of America, or the armed forces of the United States of America, while in the performance of their duties as such;
    (2) Shooting contests such as turkey shoots, target practice and other contests after a permit has been issued therefor by the chief of police and while the same is under the direct supervision of the chief of police or a designated officer of the law.
    (d) Carrying of concealed handgun. The carrying of a concealed handgun as defined in G.S. 14-415.10 et seq. in any building or appurtenant premises owned, leased or occupied by the town for governmental purposes, and in all municipal parks, recreation areas and beach access areas, is prohibited.
    (e) Posting of prohibition. The prohibition against carrying a concealed handgun shall be enforceable in any government building and appurtenant premises and on any park described in subsection (d) of this section upon the posting of a notice stating: "The carrying of a concealed handgun on these premises is prohibited and illegal." This notice shall be posted in a conspicuous location near the entrance to any such premises.
    (f) Violations. Violation of subsection (d) of this section shall be punishable as provided in G.S. 14-415.21(b).
    (Code 1990, 13-2; Ord. No. 08-01-004, I, 1-9-2008)
    State law references: Authority of town to regulate, etc., discharge of firearms, G.S. 160A-189; regulation of sale, use, etc., of pyrotechnics, G.S. 14-410--14-415.

    So it looks like carrying CONCEALED is prohibited on the beach, and any other city recreational or park area where posted. But I don't see any general prohibition on OC...


    Anyone want to be a test case?

  3. #3
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Raleigh area, North Carolina, USA



    If you read the bolded part you posted closely you'll see it says "beach access areas", which I would read as the public beach access points and not the beach itself. I'm not convinced that this covers the actual beach though. What if you went on the beach from a private access point like from a house or hotel?

    Unfortunately I don't have an answer to this but wanted to point that out as it still doesn't look clear to me.


    I found the following online to view the parcels for Dare County.

    If you zoom in to the beach and enable aerial photos it looks like the parcels go out to the water's edge. So this may mean the beach is privately owned? I doubt that and suspect that it is codified in some law that the beach constitutes some sort of special property type or is owned by some other entity but again I don't know about that either.

    Just throwing more information out there for everyone to chew on.
    Last edited by JustinW; 07-12-2010 at 10:56 AM. Reason: More info.

  4. #4
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    , ,

    1. Public Trust Areas are the coastal waters and submerged lands that every North Carolinian has the right to use for activities such as boating, swimming or fishing. These areas often overlap with estuarine waters, but they also include many inland fishing waters. The following lands and waters are considered public trust areas:

    all waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the lands underneath, from the normal high water mark on shore to the state's official boundary three miles offshore;

    ■all navigable natural water bodies and the lands underneath, to the normal high watermark on shore (a body of water is considered navigable if you can float a canoe in it). This does not include privately owned lakes where the public doesn't have access rights;

    ■all water in artificially created water bodies that have significant public fishing resources and are accessible to the public from other waters; and

    ■all waters in artificially created water bodies where the public has acquired rights by prescription, custom, usage, dedication or any other means.

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