Knox mayors unhappy with bill to allow guns in local parks

The mayors of Knoxville and Knox County say the state should leave it to municipalities to choose whether people can legally take guns to parks, according to the News Sentinel.

“It’s best left up to local control,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett told the News Sentinel on Thursday “I don’t like Nashville telling me what to do. I trust my commissioners.”

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said that the city’s ban on guns in parks is a local decision and should remain that way.

“In 2009, the Knoxville City Council voted overwhelmingly to retain its long-standing prohibition against guns in parks,” Rogero, who was in Washington, D.C. Thursday, said in an emailed statement. “At that time the state General Assembly had passed legislation allowing Knoxville and other cities to decide what was best for their residents regarding this matter.”

Comments from both mayors came in reaction to a proposed bill by state Sen. Stacey Campfield that would prohibit municipalities across the state from regulating firearm possession in public parks and open spaces.

Campfield, a Knoxville Republican, said that his proposal would clear an issue with the Tennessee Constitution. He also said that the 2009 law allowing local jurisdictions to decide whether people can have guns in parks has resulted in inconsistent rules across the state.

“The constitution says the state regulates the wearing of arms. I question whether we can delegate that to local governments,” Campfield said, adding that the law has resulted in “a patchwork of laws from one city to another, one park to another and even, literally, one step to another.”

The proposed legislation, SB1496, is on notice for a vote Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Campfield’s proposal has been met with opposition since its introduction from other elected officials across the state.

Mayors from Memphis and Nashville have spoken out against the bill in media reports. (Note: See, for example, prior post HERE.)