Allowing 'guns in parks' conflicts with existing Metro ban
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As Metro Council members prepare for a second vote Thursday night on the state's controversial "guns in parks" law set to take effect next month, there is talk of removing a firearms ban in local parks that Metro legal officials say has been in effect since the late 1960s.
Thursday night's vote is the second of three required by the council to decide whether to "opt out" of the new law that allows permitted gun holders to carry their weapons into parks.
If council members do not vote to opt out, it creates a conflict with the 40-year-old existing ban.
For Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, question about whether to opt out is reason enough to do so.
"I mean as a city, the last thing we need to do is have guns in our parks. That's my position on it," he said.
Second amendment advocates like Metro Council member Jim Gotto see removing the local ban as another weapon in their fight.
Gotto told News 2 Thursday if efforts to opt out of the law fail, he may introduce a bill removing the local ban.
"If this bill fails [Thursday night], the likelihood of such a bill being filed either by me or someone else is probably pretty high," he said.
Gotto cites safety concerns on the city's remote trails controlled by Metro Parks often referred to as greenways as part of the reason why.
"It just does not make sense to pass a law banning guns in areas that are unprotected, unscreened," he told News 2. "I mean consider the greenways."
Councilman Michael Craddock, who passed a law allowing cameras in city parks, also opposes the opt-out.
"For years I have been fighting deviant sexuals back here in the park, which is more dangerous than a gun in someone's pocket, and yet we don't have a conversation about that," he said.
Metro Council members who oppose the opt-out legislation outnumbered those in favor during the council's first reading last month.
Since then, National Rifle Association advocates say they are making a stand to stop the trend of local governments choosing to opt out of the state law.
Jerry Maynard, sponsor of the opt-out measure, says he has received hundreds of emails and phone calls from those opposed to the opt-out clause.
Several Mid-State cities including Murfreesboro, Franklin and Brentwood and large counties like Shelby and Williamson have voted to opt out of the new law.
Other municipalities like Mt. Juliet and Columbia voted against the opt-out clause and will allow guns in parks when the law goes into effect on September 1.