NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Metro Council's Public Safety Committee Thursday night tackled the issue of whether to allow permitted gun holders to carry their weapons into city parks.
Several surrounding cities have already voted to "opt out" of a new law set to take effect in September while others, like Mt. Juliet and Columbia, have chosen not to and allow permit holders' guns in their parks.
In Nashville, the debate rages on.
"Would I be safer with the gun or less safe, just be honest, what would you rather choose?" Metro Councilman Eric Crafton asked Metro Police Captain Mike Hagar Thursday night.
"I think you'll be safe in a park regardless," Hagar responded.
Those who want to see Metro opt out of the state "Guns in Parks" law cite safety concerns and say it'll be safer to keep guns, even if they are legal, out of parks.
"The governor supports our opt-out legislation, the mayor supports our opt-out legislation, the chief of police [and] our parks director supports it," Councilmember and sponsor of Metro's opt-out legislation Jerry Maynard told committee members Thursday.
He said the reason is for one reason, "the protection of our families."
Those opposed to opting out say it's safer to allow permitted gun holders' weapons in parks because criminals will have guns whether they are banned or not.
"You indicate 237,000 [handgun permit holders] are irresponsible, I find that hard to believe," Representative Ben West said. "On one occasion I had to show my gun, it protected me. How did I feel after that? Confident and all I did was put the gun on the dashboard."
Council members who oppose the opt-out legislation outnumber those in favor.
The entire Metro Council will take up the issue again next Thursday, August 6.