Tennessee Lawmakers Decide Not To Allow Guns In Capitol, After All | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Lawmakers Decide Not To Allow Guns In Capitol, After All

Apr 14, 2015

A group of lawmakers is recommending against allowing guns in the state Capitol. The panel also says guns should be allowed in parks, except when they're actively being used by school groups.

Both ideas came from a conference committee set up to hash out differences over gun-in-parks legislation. The committee recommendations moves lawmakers substantially closer to ending local bans on guns in parks.

Lawmakers dropped the idea of letting guns into the statehouse without any debate Tuesday. The proposal had been added to the bill by an opponent, Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville), and was widely expected to be stripped from the measure.

But Republicans say the conference committee did clarify just how far House Bill 995 goes. They said they laid out parameters that will let schools continue to use parks for school functions, without infringing on the right of gun owners to protect themselves.

Guns would not be allowed "in the vicinity" of school events. But gun owners would have the opportunity to put their weapons away if they wander too close to a school activity.

Democrats disagreed. Rep. Harold Love of Nashville says he's disappointed more wasn't done to protect children — like extending no-gun buffer zones around schools.

"If the school is right next to the park, you can be in the park, and you can have your gun. And all it requires is that you make some attempt to put your gun up."

The state Senate and House will review the compromise language in the next few days. They'll then vote on whether to send the measure to Gov. Bill Haslam.