Haslam has ‘major concerns’ on guns-in-parks revisited

Gov. Bill Haslam is uneasy over legislation that would stop cities from being able to ban handguns in their parks, he told reporters Thursday.

“If that property belongs to local governments, then their locally elected officials should be able to decide what happens to that property,” said Haslam who was mayor of Knoxville when the original guns-in-parks bill became law in 2009. “The way I understand it now, I have some major concerns.”

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean this week asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to take a pass on Senate Bill 1496 pitched by Sen. Stacey Campfield. The bill allows handgun carry permit holders to carry a firearm in any state, county or municipal park or recreation area, removing power local governments currently have to opt out local parks.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters Thursday he is in favor of the bill, saying there are some things that should be left to local municipalities to decide and other issues the state should control.

“There are certain things that you leave up to local governments. Zoning, what works in Bristol doesn’t work in Memphis. Maybe alcohol laws based on the social values of that area, that people ought to be able to vote,” Ramsey said. “But when it comes to something as basic as a Second Amendment right, then that’s something the state ought to set.”

Unlike the state’s relationship to the federal government, Ramsey argued that local governments are political subdivisions of the state.

“If we’ve got 17 votes in the Senate and 50 votes in the House, tomorrow we can say that the state only has three counties. Middle, East and West,” he said. “The bottom line is I’m for the bill.”