Friday, April 24, 2015

Haslam Caves, Signs Legislation Nullifying Local Options on Guns-in-Parks

Governor had expressed misgivings and hinted at veto; bill leaves vague distinction in cases of school-sanctioned activity.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Governor Haslam
  • Governor Haslam
Despite his persistent criticism of the General Assembly’s latest version of a guns-in-parks bill and a statement to the media on Thursday that he had not yet decided what to do about the bill — taken as a hint by several reporters and observers that he might veto it — Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on Friday.

What that means is that no longer do the state’s localities possess an option to ban individuals with legal permits from carrying weapons onto their parks. The previous guns-in-parks bill had such a provision, and it was invoked by such municipalities as Memphis and Germantown, as well as Knoxville, Haslam’s own home base.

Haslam had made it obvious that he thought legislators should have listened more to misgivings from local communities and law enforcement agencies in crafting a new gun bill, and his own reticence about this year’s bill was probably a factor in the National Rifle Association’s not asking him to address its recent convention in Nashville.

Some of the more cynical observers of the issue, noting speculation here and there that Haslam might end up as a vice presidential running mate for this or that GOP presidential hopeful, most of whom are NRA enthusiasts, predicted that the Governor would allow the bill to become law without his signature. Few imagined that he would sign it into law outright.

But now he has, even though some of his own concerns remain and were expressed in a letter to Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell accounting for his decision. Acknowledging that the proximity of firearms to minors, particularly school children, could be a major problem, Haslam noted an amendment to the bill that continues to prohibit weapon-carry in the “immediate vicinity” of school-sponsored activity.

The Governor conceded in the letter that “an unintended consequence may be operational challenges for local leaders in managing their parks in a safe, effective, and consistent matter, due to events and situations that could not have been anticipated in drafting this law.”

Among the “operational challenges” that the bill imposes on local jurisdictions is making clear which activities in parks are school-sanctioned and which, though involving school-age children, are not. Critics of the legislation — which, like most gun bills, had a support base corresponding roughly to the Republican membership of the legislature — maintain that the distinction could be a difficult one to make, could invite litigation in specific instances, and, most crucially, would be an ineffective shield against potentially dangerous situations.

Another gun bill that was passed on the last day of this year’s session struck down existing obstacles to firearms possession by persons with a history of mental illness and made it relatively easy for such individuals to acquire gun-carry permits with the approval of a local court.

Comments (65)

Showing 1-50 of 65

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-50 of 65

Add a comment


Speaking of School Consolidation


Readers also liked…

  • Cohen Tells It!

    In which Memphis’ Democratic congressman Steve Cohen, addressing an apparent GOP effort to muddy the waters on the Russian inquiry, not only takes no crap but gives it back where it came from. This is worth watching from beginning to end -- even for those who might disagree on the politics of the matter.
    • Jul 26, 2017
  • Councilman Calls for Local Control, Wants Confederate Monuments Removed

    District 1's Bill Morrison challenges state law, says Memphians should have "right and power" over public monuments.
    • Aug 16, 2017
  • Filling the Space

    For all the in-fighting, we’re all looking for the same thing, and sometimes we can realize it.
    • Jul 14, 2016

Most Commented On

  • County mayor's Race: What's in Their Wallet?

    In GOP Field, Lenoir Has the Money, with Touliatos Second, and Roland Staying Viable on Name ID; Harris Well Ahead Among Dems
    • Feb 2, 2018
  • New Actions Against Ranked Choice Voting

    The City Council schedules a Tuesday discussion in executive session; also on Tuesday, a bill to prohibit RCV (aka Instant Runoff Voting) comes before a state Senate committee.
    • Feb 19, 2018
  • More »
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation