Tennessee House approves guns in parks

Senate action is still needed

By Erik Schelzig • ASSOCIATED PRESS • April 21, 2009

Tennesseans with state-issued permits to carry loaded handguns in public would be able to bring their weapons into all state parks and some local parks under bills passed Monday in the House.

The chamber voted 71-22 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Frank Niceley to require all state parks to allow permit-holders to carry their weapons there.

The bill is opposed by the state Environment and Conservation Department, which operates state parks. Commissioner Jim Fyke testified to a House committee earlier in the session that there have been only 21 reported crimes against the more than 100 million visitors to state parks during the past three years.

But supporters said they would feel safer if they could bring guns. Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said the proposal would make him feel safer, especially “as the father of a young child who’s going to be utilizing the state parks as it starts to warm up.”

Former House Speaker Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington was one of the 22 Democrats who voted against the guns in state parks bill. He said he worried that handgun permit holders would decide to set up makeshift targets to shoot at.

I like to hike in state parks and photograph wildlife. I cringe when I hear someone on a cell phone. Now, I have to worry about some idiot with a gun. At Radnor Lake, the deer come up to the nature paths, will they be safe? Concerning the dude above who will feel safer bringing his gun into the parks, I must admit that I have never felt threatened in a park in Tennessee.

Tennessee has high unemployment, high illiteracy rates and many malnourished children. Let’s work on these issues.

The state legislature is also working on making it legal to bring guns into restaurants and bars.

NP NowPublic

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jim said,

    Individuals with Carry permits generally do not fall into the category of “idiots with guns”. If one goes through the state required training classes and permitting to receive the carry permit, the individual is well aware of the significant responsibilities and limitations imposed on them (as well as the potential emotional, civil and criminal liabilities associated with dischargin a weapon). Predators attack those who are vulnerable; I carry my weapon as a “defense of last resort” to protect myself and those around me from predators who decide we are their next victims.

    If you ever see my handgun drawn it will be in defense of a life (maybe yours), not to shoot a deer on the side of a hiking trail!!! I will bet that any one of the 21 victims (referenced above) of a violent crime in a TN State park wished that someone like me had been their hiking partner…


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