Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guns-in-parks goes to Tennessee governor

Nashville lawmakers likely to seek ban By Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • May 27, 2009 A bill to allow guns in state and local parks passed the state House on Tuesday and is now headed to Gov. Phil Bredesen for consideration. The bill, which passed 54-41, allows handgun carry permit holders to take their weapons into all state and local parks. While the measure goes into effect automatically, local governments can ban guns from its parks, something Nashville lawmakers probably will do. Metro Council members passed a resolution last week criticizing the legislature's efforts to dictate gun laws for local parks. Mayor Karl Dean signed the resolution Friday. Metro Parks Director Roy Wilson said allowing guns in local parks would put children at greater risk in Nashville because many of the city's parks are near schools. "It's totally ridiculous," Wilson said. "You can pick up any newspaper or listen to any newscast on any day, and there are horror stories of violence being committed in our city by people with guns. Why give them another avenue by which to use these guns?" Councilman Erik Cole took issue with the legislature's intrusion into what he sees as a local public safety issue. "We have jurisdiction over all the other pieces of our local parks," said the East Nashville Councilman. "We fund the budget for the local police and the parks department, and it ought to be left to the locality." But Metro Councilman Robert Duvall of Antioch, who favors opening up state and local parks to carry-permit holders, said, "The only people who are going to use guns illegally in parks are the bad guys." "It's time to be able to defend ourselves," said Duvall, who is a handgun carry permit holder. "It's your right as a citizen. We need to protect ourselves and our families." Scope expanded The bill originally applied only to state parks, but the House voted Tuesday to agree with Senate changes that included local parks. Strawberry Plains Republican Rep. Frank Niceley, who sponsored the bill that passed Tuesday, said its format matched that of other gun legislation passed this session, including a bill to allow guns in restaurants that serve alcohol. Like restaurants, parks that do not allow guns would be required to post signs indicating that weapons are banned. "When we passed the carry permit law, we told the private citizens that the permit holders were going to be able to carry on all private property, unless it's posted," Niceley said. "Now then, we're telling the counties that permit holders will be able to carry in all the parks, unless you post it." The bill also would allow handgun carry permit holders from 19 other states to carry their weapons in parks. Bredesen has not indicated what he will do when this or other gun bills come to his desk.

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