Man legally brings loaded AK-47 pistol to park - WKRN News 2

Man legally brings loaded AK-47 pistol to park

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

The state's new law allowing handgun carry permit holders to carry their weapons into state parks was put to the test earlier this month at Radnor Lake State Park.

According to park rangers, on the afternoon of December 20, a 37-year-old Brentwood man entered the park with a loaded AK-47 pistol.

Mike Carlton, Assistant Commissioner for Tennessee State Parks, said the man was wearing the weapon "slung" over his shoulder.

"I got a call from rangers at Radnor who said they had a unique situation," Carlton recalled.  "Someone was carrying a gun that they said was handgun but it looked like a rifle to our rangers.  It looked like a rifle to me too."

Rangers confronted the man, who told them the weapon is registered as a handgun and he has a legal carry permit.

Questioning the story, the rangers detained the man while they investigated.

Eventually, ATF agents arrived at the park and confirmed the man's story.

The weapon is in fact a handgun, an AK 47 pistol, and the man is not in violation of state law.

After several hours, the man was allowed to leave.

Despite the determination, Carlton said the gun looked like a rifle, which is not permissible under park laws.

"Under normal circumstances, that is a rifle," he said.  "We all have our definition when we see a handgun.  A handgun is in a holster and this was one was slung over his shoulder in a sling.  That is not my definition of what a pistol is."

While the Brentwood gun owner did not violate any law, Carlton said the incident paints carry permit holders in a bad light.

"The unfortunate side effect of this is there are good people who follow the law," he said.  "There are good carry permit people not breaking the law. They are not upsetting people on their visit and this one guy is drawing [negative] attention to people who are pretty good folks.  His actions will force some scrutiny."

According to officials at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the AK-47 pistol is considered a handgun because it does not have a stock and the barrel is less than 11 inches long.

The Brentwood gun owner did not return News 2's calls for comment.

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