Tennessee Wants To Make It Easier To Carry Guns In Parks Days Before NRA Convention

Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow individuals to carry a weapon in public parks. The sponsor said the measure would allow people attending the NRA's annual convention in Nashville this week to see more of the city.

The bill would repeal a provision in a 2009 state law that allows local officials to ban guns in parks. It would invalidate local restrictions and allow permitted gun holders to carry guns in state and local parks, with exceptions for those used by schools, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has raised concerns about the bill, and it's unclear whether he'll sign it into law. As mayor of Knoxville in 2009, Haslam presided over a city vote to maintain a ban on handguns in city parks, The Associated Press reported.

"He’ll review it in its final form, like he does all legislation before taking any action on it," Haslam spokesman David Smith told The Huffington Post.

State Rep. Mike Harrison (R) told WTVF that he sponsored the bill because women in his district told him that they would feel safer in parks if they had a weapon. Harrison told Nashville Public Radio last month that he thought the measure would be hospitable to people who come to Nashville for the NRA convention this week.

“We’ve got 80,000 people coming in here. They need to see the whole city," Harrison said.

If Haslam signs the bill, it would become law immediately.

The bill passed the state House last week, but hit a snag in the Senate, when Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D) introduced an amendment that would make it legal to carry a gun on the grounds of the state Capitol.

"I think that the hypocrisy is easy to see," Yarbro told HuffPost. "I mean if we're going to take control from local government, we should at least subject ourselves to the same standards."

Yarboro's move surprised some Republicans, and the Senate passed the measure, sending the amended bill back to the House, which rejected it on Monday. The Senate must now consider whether to keep the amendment.

Yarbro said he had concerns about tailoring legislation for the NRA convention, which begins on Friday.

"Timing legislation for a local convention is not a good recipe for public policy," Yarbro said.

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