Today the "guns in parks" bill passed the Senate by a vote 26-7. In 2009 the state passed a guns in parks bill but gave city and county governments the ability to opt out of the
new law. Nashville was one of those cities that opted out, banning all guns in parks.
This session, Sen. Stacy Campfield proposed SB 1496 which permits a person with a handgun carry permit to carry a firearm in any state, county or municipal park or other recreation area and deletes provisions allowing local governments to prohibit carrying in parks.
All Republicans senators voted for the bill except for Doug Overby of Maryville. The six Democrats who voted against the bill were Charlotte Burks, Lowe Finney, Thelma Harper, Doug Henry, Jim Kyle, and Reginald Tate.
The House has delayed consideration of the bill to, according to House Speaker Beth Harwell, make the language “a little more palatable to our local governments.”
“We believe in Second Amendment rights. We want to be sensitive of that," said Harwell. "We also want to be very sensitive of the fact that local governments have their place to play as well. These are local parks financed by our local government, patrolled by our local governments, so I think they should have some say,” she said.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam has said he has concerns about the bill.
I myself am not concerned that people with handgun carry permits are carrying guns in parks. The bad people with guns you have to worry about do not have handgun carry permits and they are not deterred by a "no guns allowed" sign. I favor Campfield's bill. On the other hand, I would not oppose some limited leeway to let cities have the authority to ban guns in child play areas or at concerts where alcohol is served or at sporting events. I think those situations are different than a trail in an isolated area.
One of the arguments that does not impress me is that the State telling cities what they may and may not do is the same as the Federal government dictating to the states what they may and may not do. Many liberals will make that comparison and allege that conservatives who want to limit the authority of cities are hypocritical when they themselves oppose the Federal Government dictating to States.
There is major difference. States have sovereignty; cities do not. The federal government is a creation of the states, states are not a creation of the cities within the state. Any power a city has is because it is granted by the state. The power of the federal government is power relinquished by States to the federal government. The Federal government can not abolish a State; a State could withdraw the charter of a city. Federal is to State, is not the same relationship as State is to city. It is not the same at all.
The State is within its rights to ban a city from granting protected victim status to homosexuals, to let the decision on approving charter schools reside with the State, or prohibiting a city from banning guns in city parks.