Guns in local parks? General Assembly wants to take away local decision

Johnson City Press • Jan 31, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Johnson City commissioners voted in 2009 to continue a ban on guns in city parks. Their action followed a deal reached in the state General Assembly to allow local cities and towns to opt out of a new law allowing Tennesseans with a conceal-carry gun permit to tote their weapons into local parks.

Now, lawmakers in Nashville want to renege on that deal. For all their talk about keeping state government out of local business, some legislators are intent on meddling in such matters.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is pushing passage of a bill to repeal all local ordinances that prohibit guns in city or town parks. The legislation will be moved soon to the Senate floor for a vote.

Municipal officials from many towns and cities (including Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin) have sent the following message to those legislators: Guns have no place in our parks.

Gov. Bill Haslam does not like the idea of voiding decisions made by Johnson City and other cities to ban guns in local parks. Haslam was mayor of Knoxville in 2009 when the City Council voted to ban guns from being carried in some parks there.

Johnson City commissioners acted prudently when it first passed an ordinance in 2001 to prohibit guns in city parks. Since that time, Johnson City has not seen any outbreaks of violence as a result of residents not being able to carry their firearms into city parks.

As we’ve said in this space before, if citizens truly believe they must carry a gun to protect themselves in a municipal park, then city leaders have a much more serious public safety problem to address.

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