RALEIGH — Last week’s announcement that guns aren’t allowed at the state fair has sparked a lot of debate. And now it’s sparked legal action by the group Grass Roots North Carolina.

“We’ve consulted many lawyers and none of them can find any grey area. The fact is the statutes stipulate very clearly which areas of state property guns can be prohibited on and the fairgrounds are not one of them,” said Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone.

At issue is House Bill 937, which went into effect last year and allows those with concealed carry permits to carry guns in public recreation areas. Agriculture Commisioner Steve Troxler says the law is open to interpretation and doesn’t apply to the State Fairgrounds. On Thursday, the group filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent the State Fair from restricting gun owners.

“They’ve had background checks and training and frankly, rather than being a hazard at the State Fair, concealed handgun permit holders are a resource,” said Valone.

Grass Roots North Carolina actually met with Commissioner Troxler prior to last week’s announcement. Commissioner Troxler identifies himself as a gun owner and a grandfather, but is holding firm on the ‘No Weapons Allowed’ policy.

In a statement Commissioner Troxler said, ‘We go to great lengths to provide a safe environment at the State Fair. Our efforts include a large law enforcement presence and the use of metal detectors. The Fair’s weapons policy, which has been in place for decades, also plays an important role in maintaining that safe environment.

The group filed paperwork in Superior Court on Thursday.

There is no word on when the court case will be heard.

The North Carolina State Fair starts next Thursday, Oct. 16.

– Andy Mattison