Tennessee legislators have put local officials on the hot seat with the recent passage of a law allowing guns to be carried in public parks, The Tennessean reports. The legislation, which was signed into law last week by Gov. Phil Bredesen, immediately opens state-owned parks to people who have handgun carry permits. Municipalities have until Sept. 1 to opt out of the new provision and ban guns from their own parks. State officials had considered a bill that would have exempted locally governed parks from the new gun law, but went forward with language that includes counties and cities.
“This thing turned 180 degrees,” said County Commission Chairman Houston Naron Jr. “The biggest issue overall that makes this something we’ve got to give careful consideration to is this is involving children.” There are more than 45 parks overseen by the county and city governments in Williamson County. These include places with athletic fields, walking trails, Civil War sites and open wooded or grassy areas. If local officials take no action, then handgun carry permit holders can pack heat while watching baseball games, hiking or strolling by playgrounds.