Licensed handgun owners are allowed to carry their weapons in parks throughout Tennessee under a bill signed by Governor Bill Haslam on Friday, even if local governments would like to ban the practice.
Haslam, a Republican, said he had reservations about an early version of the bill, but signed the final measure that made it clear that guns are not allowed at school-related activities taking place in parks.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and other local leaders strongly opposed the bill.
“Public safety is always my greatest concern,” Dean had said in a letter to the chairman of a House committee that studied the measure. “Therefore, most simply stated, I believe that allowing guns in Nashville’s parks is a very bad idea.”
Haslam said in a letter to legislative leaders he was concerned local leaders may find it difficult to manage their parks safely and effectively due to events not anticipated in drafting the law, and urged that they work together to assess its impact.
Supporters of the measure had hoped it would be approved before an annual National Rifle Association meeting brought 70,000 people to Nashville earlier in April.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad Zargham)