Tennesseans debate pro-gun laws passed by legislature
August 1, 2009
by Joseph P. Tartaro
You’d think that these new laws would be universally accepted in Tennessee where I have met thoracic surgeons, bank managers, corporate executives and factory workers, storekeepers and almost everyone else who supports the right to keep and bear arms. But that’s apparently not the case.
Newspapers and some restaurant and tavern owners were quick to try and block both provisions, but what is interesting is that they could find enough people to make a case against both practices, as did The Tennessean, a Gannett newspaper in Nashville, TN.
On the guns in restaurants proposal, WKRN reported that hundreds of business owners who belong to the Tennessee Hospitality Association say they’ll be prohibiting guns in their establishments.
After editorializing against the laws, The Tennessean attempted to gauge public opinion on the guns in parks issue and followed up with a report on their survey, most of which will be reproduced here. However, Gun Week readers should be aware that the newspaper did not report on the total number of respondents and was the sole judge of which citizen answers it would use in the story. I will include a sampling of the published comments here.
On June 28, The Tennessean ran its report under the headline “Guns in parks provision stirs divisive debate.”
“Now that state lawmakers have passed a law allowing guns to be carried in the Tennessee’s public parks, local officials are in the hot seat,” the newspaper began.
“Municipalities have until Sept. 1 to opt out of the new provision and ban guns from their own parks. We asked readers whether they think guns should be allowed in city and county parks and whether they plan to voice their opinions to elected officials.
“Absolutely! The most dangerous areas in America today are the “gun-free” zones. There, only the criminals and nuts, who never obey the law, have guns. This is a no-brainer,” said Ed Wells, of Brentwood.
“If you are that paranoid, you ought to stay home with your doors locked, guns ready, rather than be carrying your gun to a park, where an innocent child might be hurt or killed by an inaccurate licensed gun carrier.
“All the cities ought to opt out of this foolish law. I also think this was the most irresponsible legislative session in the history of Tennessee, though they probably earned double campaign contribution bonuses from the NRA.
“I cannot wait until next year when the GOP-led legislature will permit AK 47s in schools and bring back slavery and the Inquisition,” offered Tom Jordan of Franklin.
“So if you make guns in parks illegal, will that keep the thugs from packing? I don’t think so.
“If there had been some legal guns around, maybe some of the terrible massacres that have taken place in schools could have been stopped sooner.
“This is always the same issue, and Second Amendment opponents are always thinking of new ways to pose the same question,” said Carole Barenys of Brentwood.
“(Heck) no! I thought hard on an appropriate answer to this question and those two words sum it up for me. How state lawmakers passed this bill only proves the backward direction we’re traveling (or the power of the NRA)….
“And all you politicians out there debating this issuegrow a backbone, take notice to the 5,000 number versus the rest of us, use some common sense and keep this from turning into a burden on our overloaded justice system,” said Robert Taylor of Franklin.
“The anti-gun media has really been all abuzz about gun legislation over the past legislative session. There is a tremendous amount of misreporting and misinformation about some of the recent gun-carry laws.
“Sen. Jack Johnson recently addressed these new conceal/carry laws in an interview on WAKM 950 and did a remarkable job of explaining them. If folks would just look at the facts and not read the bizarre reporting, they would be doing themselves a favor.
“Remember the reporting by major newspapers before the state of Tennessee passing the current conceal/carry laws? I doit was misinformed then as it is now.
“There are over 200,000 current conceal/carry permit holders in the state of Tennessee. All of them have gone through a fairly rigorous eight hours of education, including a mandatory pass/fail shooting session. Each of these permit holders took a pass/fail test to gauge their understanding of the current laws. For instance, it is currently against the law to carry a weapon when consuming alcohol, it is illegal to carry a weapon in a place of business when it is posted against carrying among many others.
“My question is, why would any politician (city, county or state) ban a law-abiding citizen from carrying a weapon when there have been no incidents with conceal/carry permit holders in the entire state of Tennessee? This would be like going one workday without a single traffic accident on the streets of Nashville. Is that possible?
“I hope that Williamson County’s elected officials do not go out of their way to ban what the state of Tennessee has permitted. There is absolutely no reason to,” said Victor F. Andrew of Franklin.
“The issue of carrying concealed weapons in Williamson County and Franklin City Parks is much different from guns in national parks. In large, remote national parks there may be dangerous animals and armed forest rangers are not close by….
“I am a Second Amendment supporter, but we are not safer by allowing concealed weapons in public playgrounds. The presentation of guns only escalates a situation into potentially fatal consequences involving gun-toters as well as innocent men, women and children. I am writing our mayors and aldermen to put a stop to this insanity. I strongly urge others to do likewise,” commented Michael J Bolduc of Franklin.
The next day, on June 29, The Tennessean ran a story about how the guns in parks issue could cost Murfreesboro, TN, money and prestige.
If guns are allowed in Murfreesboro’s parks, the city can expect to lose the annual Spring Fling and the $3.4 million in tourism dollars the week-long high school spring sport state tournaments bring each year, the newspaper reported.
That was the response by Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association executive director Bernard Childress on June 28 when asked about the high school association’s stance on guns being allowed at high school state tournaments.
“This is a zero tolerance issueperiod,” Childress said. “We don’t have a written policy. But if anyone had a gun where our kids are we wouldn’t be there. There is no way possible that we’d allow a gun in one of our events.”
The debate shows that even when a state legislative body and a governor approve of pro-gun legislation and expand the right of law-abiding people to keep and bear arms for their defense, their will be differences of opinion, even in a pro-gun state like Tennessee. This should also remind us of why it is so hard to pass even basic right-to-carry legislation in states like Illinois and Wisconsin.