NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill to strip local governments of the power to bar people with handgun carry permits from being armed in parks, playgrounds and sports fields.
The contentious measure was introduced as a welcome gift from gun-friendly Tennessee lawmakers to the more than 70,000 people attending the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Nashville earlier this month.
But the bill got tied up amid bickering between Republicans who control both the state House and Senate, and only passed once lawmakers agreed to remove the Capitol complex from the areas where permit holders could be armed.
Opponents say the final version of the legislation is still confusing due to a provision banning guns “within the immediate vicinity” of school activities, but not defining a specific distance.
Haslam a letter to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Speaker Beth Harwell, Senator John Stevens and Representative Mike Harrison: (Read the full letter: Guns in parks letter from Gov. Haslam)
Overall, I believe the legislation in its final from is a vast improvement from the bill as initially introduced. However, I am concerned that an unintended consequence may be operation challenges for local leaders in managing their parks in a safe, effective and consistent manner, due to events and situation that could not have been anticipated in drafting this law.
I think it is critical going forward that we work with local leaders to assess the impact of this law that we all listen and respond to the questions and concerns of those leaders as they work to implement it successfully.
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