BRISTOL — Officials in an East Tennessee town have repealed a ban on guns in parks.
The Bristol Herald Courier reports gun owners who have a permit may now care firearms in 28 of 31 parks or greenways in Bristol.
The 4-1 vote by City Council members on Tuesday night came after more than a dozen residents spoke on the matter. The newspaper reports a majority of speakers were opposed to repealing the ban, but others supported the proposal.
Mayor Michelle Dolan, who voted for the measure, said government should be less intrusive on personal rights.
Councilwoman Margaret Feierabend voted against the repeal because she said the community is safe and she didn't see a need to allow guns in parks.
The city adopted the ban in 2009 after passage of a state law that allowed concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns into a park. The law included an opt-out clause for local municipalities.
Planning Commission member Alison Scanlan advised the council to consider the issue further before taking a vote.
"Are our city parks so unsafe that we should feel it necessary to arm ourselves for protection and safety? That concerns me as someone who uses our city parks on a weekly basis," Scanlan said.
Councilwoman Lea Powers said residents should treasure their rights, including the one to bear arms.
"There are very few sane people that have committed crimes against one another. I think we have to go deeper as a society to address a lot of what has happened recently (with gun-related violence), but I think to take away an individual's rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution is not the way to do that," Powers said.