Haslam offers veiled veto threat on guns-in-parks

Gov. Bill Haslam equates the legislative push to override local government gun bans in parks as a property matter rather than a constitutional one.

“City councils and county commissions have said, ‘OK, our taxpayers have paid for that park,’ and their elected representatives, I think, should get to decide what happens in the parks,” he told reporters after making a jobs announcement in Dickson. "To me, it’s not a Second Amendment right. It’s the same right anybody should have with a property they control."

Haslam stopped short of saying he'd veto the bill. In noting that the measure is now on the move in the House, he said, “We’ll have to see once it winds its way to me.”

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee advanced the bill this week, despite the governor's “major concerns” expressed earlier this year. Those concerns also didn’t stop the Senate, which voted last month 26-7 to allow handgun-carry permit holders to bring their gun with them into parks, regardless whether local municipalities have banned them.

While House Speaker Beth Harwell has said she sees a guns-in-parks bill passing this year, she has said she wants to make the bill more “palatable” to local governments. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has also weighed in by asking members of the legislature to leave local authority to ban guns in municipal parks alone.