by Steven Hale
Mayor Karl Dean is urging members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against a bill that would take away the city's authority to ban guns in parks.
The bill — SB 1496 / HB 1407 — sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) would amend state law pertaining to guns in parks by deleting provisions allowing local governments to opt-out of allowing guns in local parks. Nashville did just that in 2009.
In an email to committee members, Dean says he "support[s] the Second Amendment right to own firearms, there are legitimate public safety concerns as to where and when people can possess guns."
Read the full email from Dean after the jump:
Dear Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
I am writing to strongly urge you to vote against SB 1496 (HB1407), which would amend the state law governing guns in parks in Tennessee. Specifically, this bill would remove local authority to opt-out of allowing guns in municipal parks, which the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County decided to do promptly after the law's original passage in 2009.
While I support the Second Amendment right to own firearms, there are legitimate public safety concerns as to where and when people can possess guns. The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police has recognized this as well, taking the position that this type of decision should be made at the local level. As Mayor of a large city, public safety has to be of my utmost concern. Put simply, I believe guns in Nashville parks is a bad idea.
The Metro Council, the locally elected legislative body, made the right decision to opt out of the state law allowing guns in parks. The Metro Council also sent a clear message about its desire to have authority over this issue by passing a memorializing resolution to that affect.
If the best government is the one closest to the people, then the Tennessee General Assembly should defeat SB 1496 (HB1407) and uphold its original decision to let this important public safety issue be ultimately determined at the local level.
Thank you for your consideration.
Karl F. Dean
Cc: Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey
Davidson County Delegation
The bill is on the agenda for today's Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at 2:30 p.m.
Update (2:52 p.m.): The bill has been rolled. It is now scheduled to be considered at next week's committee meeting.