A ban on guns at local parks would end if a new bill passes in the General Assembly.

The bill is backed by the Tennessee Firearms Association and conservative lawmakers. If approved, it would end a local opt-out provision in a law that opened Tennessee parks to guns in 2009.

Sen. Stacey Campfield filed the legislation last week. Rep. Tilman Goins filed a companion bill in the state House, where it has picked up 25 co-sponsors.

The 2009 law gives cities and counties the option to ban guns at parks within their jurisdictions. Chattanooga, Hamilton County and many other governments did so soon after the law took effect.


On his blog, Campfield writes that the local option creates a patchwork of laws that confuse gun owners from “city to city, park to park.”

But the local option was intended to recognize the “peculiarities” between different parts of the state, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. He voted against the initial law in 2009 as a state senator. The decision should be up to municipalities and counties, he said Friday.

“As I advocated in the state Legislature, I believe in local control,” he said. “This is a decision for individual communities to make. Our City Council went through that process and came to a conclusion.

“I just want the Legislature to respect that local voice,” he said.

Jim Coppinger was one of nine commissioners who voted to ban guns in county parks. Now, the Hamilton County mayor says the decision is up to the Legislature and that the county has a responsibility to enforce state laws.

“On the local level, if it’s passed by the General Assembly, then obviously we will adhere to the rules,” he said.

This week, mayors in three of the state’s largest cities voiced opposition to the legislation. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean called it a “bad idea” in a letter to state lawmakers.

And Gov. Bill Haslam, himself a former mayor, told reporters he has major concerns with the bill.