Controversial 'guns in parks' bill advances in TN legislature
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A controversial new gun bill is making its way through the Tennessee legislature. The bill would allow people with gun carry permits to bring their weapons to parks, playgrounds, and sports fields.
As it stands now, many local municipalities already have ordinances on the books that ban guns in local parks. But if the new law goes through, it would strip that power away from local government.
When driving into Camp Jordan in East Ridge, you can't miss the sign: 'Guns not allowed in park.' Tennessee lawmakers want signs like the ones in East Ridge taken down, so the state's 500,000 handgun carry permit holders know guns are welcome.
Mike Usry is spending the Spring day playing with his almost 3-year-old grandson at the Kid's Corner park in Red Bank.
"I don't know if there's a right or wrong answer there," says Usry.
Usry says he sees both sides.
"On one hand, if I wasn't at a playground but my grandson was and somebody came in there to attack kids, I would want somebody to have a handgun," he says.
But Usry says a permit does not equal full trust.
"On the bad side, I'm not sure that some of people that are allowed to carry handguns, should be allowed to carry handguns," he says.
Others, like Amy Hughes, are more resolute.
"There's a sign that says you can't smoke a cigarette anywhere near the park. So I definitely think that if you can't smoke a cigarette you shouldn't be able to bring a gun in there. I don't agree with it," says Hughes.
Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol says he supports the right to carry, just not everywhere.
"I understand that argument, but on the other side we mix a lot of different environments into our public parks," says Christol.
Christol says families use the parks and so do schools. He believes local governments should have the final say on guns in parks.
"They are taking regulatory authority away from the municipalities and putting it with the state," he says.
The House voted 65 to 21 Monday to pass the bill. The Senate takes up its version Wednesday. The governor has not said yet whether or not he will sign the bill into law.