New Tennessee Law Allows Handguns To Be Carried In Parks

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed a controversial new bill that allows handguns to be carried through state parks by legally-permitted owners. This also prohibits any cities in Tennessee from imposing bans on handguns in the parks.

According to the Tennessean, Haslam signed the bill on Friday that allows handguns to be carried in Tennessee parks. The governor did have some concerns at first, but he noted in a letter House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey that he believes it will work.

“Overall I believe the legislation in its final form is a vast improvement from the bill as initially introduced. However, I am concerned that an unintended consequence may be operational challenges for local leaders in managing their parks in a safe, effective and consistent manner, due to events and situations that could not have been anticipated in drafting this law.”

However, permitted owners are prohibited from carrying handguns within the “immediate vicinity” of any school-approved activities taking place in any of the parks, but it doesn’t clarify what is considered to be the “immediate vicinity.” If someone is seen with a handgun, and is near a school-approved activity as it is occurring, he or she will be asked to leave.

Chris Cox, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), is one of the supporters of the new Tennessee law.

“Law-abiding Tennesseans have a fundamental right to protect themselves, whether in their homes, or in parks. This will remove a patchwork of laws throughout the state that could have turned law-abiding citizens into unintentional criminals.”

But the law has drawn quite a bit of criticism as well. One of its opponents is Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who doesn’t approve of the fact that it bans cities from creating their own laws in regards to handguns.

“I was opposed to the bill, opposed to having guns in parks. And if that becomes the law in the state of Tennessee and our local option is taken away from us, we’ll have to follow the law.”

Another is Sue Rhodes, who told WBIR that she may go somewhere else with her grandchildren if she spots someone with a handgun.

“We have a nice backyard with a park sort of in it, so we may stay there.”

Knoxville and Farragut were two cities in Tennessee that had banned handguns from being allowed in parks. Joe Walsh, the parks and recreation director for Knoxville, said things were fine with the ban in effect.

“We’ve always felt like our parks are safe, and we like the way it was working currently. So now, we’re gonna have to, I guess, change based on this new state law.”

What is your take on Tennessee allowing handguns to be carried in parks?

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]