Williamson Co. municipalities shoot down 'guns in parks'
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The city of Franklin will vote in two weeks on whether to opt out of a new state law that allows handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into parks.
Franklin aldermen met to discuss the matter Tuesday night.
The city of Brentwood has already decided to opt out, as has Williamson County.
Several officials in those municipalities have been critical of state lawmakers for passing the bill with the "opt out" clause instead of an "opt in" provision.
Williamson County lawmaker Glen Casada, however, said the new law "is working as it should."
"I have heard that criticism but I have heard it up here on Capitol Hill, ‘Why are we wasting our time', and the reason that we do this is because we as representatives of the people, debate and vet out all issues," said Casada, the House Caucus Republican Chair.
Casada said he was "not surprised" that his heavily Republican county governments are shooting down the guns and parks law passed by the Republican majority legislature.
"The bill was intended so that [local communities could decide guns and parks]," he said.
Supporters of the new law set to take effect in the Fall say they simply want to defend themselves should they need to.
Kelli Hacker, who was celebrating her son's birthday at Pinkerton Park Tuesday, says permitted gun owners should be able to carry their guns into parks.
"If they're going to take the time to learn how to use a gun and get the permit, they're wanting to be responsible with it," Hacker said. "The criminals carry them. The legal gun owners should be able to carry them as well."
Opponents worry about safety concerns.
"I don't know who they are defending themselves against in parks, where there are mainly children and families," Gene Cordova of Knoxville told News 2 Tuesday while at Franklin's Pinkerton ParK with his granddaughter.
Franklin Alderman Beverly Burger said the new parks law and the law about guns on school property may be a collision of rights and plans to ask for an opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General before the City of Franklin may decide to opt out.
She explained, "Our kids use our parks for things like sports or hikes during class time, state parks, too."
Alderman Dana McClendon, like many of his colleagues, expressed Tuesday that he is concerned that Franklin school activities may have to be moved if the city chooses not to opt out of allowing guns in parks.
In addition to Brentwood and Williamson County, Murfreesboro and Clarksville have already approved gun bans for parks.
Local governments have until September 1, when the new law allowing guns takes effect, to opt out.