Sen. Stacey Campfield pushes for new guns in parks bill

Sen. Stacey Campfield pushes for new guns in parks bill

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State. Sen Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is pushing to lift bans on handguns in parks. State. Sen Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is pushing to lift bans on handguns in parks.
Knoxville Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis said while he has a handgun permit, he doesn't believe it's necessary to allow handguns in city parks because of the danger it poses to children. Knoxville Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis said while he has a handgun permit, he doesn't believe it's necessary to allow handguns in city parks because of the danger it poses to children.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - State. Sen Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is pushing to lift bans on handguns in parks.

The issue saw lots of debate leading up to a state law passed in 2009 allowing people to carry handguns in parks unless a local government decided otherwise. Knoxville City Council voted to uphold the city's long-standing ban on guns, but the new proposal could end that ban if passed. 

"It's nice to have something to protect you," handgun permit carrier Jerry Hylton said.

Hylton goes to Adair Park almost every day to walk his dog and often spends time with his family there. He said he would feel safer knowing he was permitted to carry his handgun in the park.

"You should have the right to carry it especially out here in the open public," Hylton said.

Knoxville Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis said while he has a handgun permit, he doesn't believe it's necessary to allow handguns in city parks because of the danger it poses to children.

Pavlis lost his 8-year-old nephew to gunfire years ago.

"My family was struck with a tragedy early on in my nephew's life and we lost him to a gun accident. And for parks, most of the people in parks are families and there's generally more kids than anybody else," Pavlis said.

The proposal would also eliminate the requirement that parks put up signs stating the criminal punishments for carrying weapons in parks.

Campfield said he believes the laws permitting or prohibiting firearms in public parks should come from the state, not from local municipalities. He also said he believes the proposal would make parks safer.

"Legal handgun permit holders commit less crimes than actual police officers do," Campfield said. "They actually prevent crime. They don't cause crime and what we really have is places where criminals who don't care about gun laws go anyway."

"I'm not against guns and what have you but I don't think it's a good measure," Pavlis said. "I don't think it's a place we need handguns or weapons of any type."

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero issued a statement saying: "I strongly support continuing Knoxville's ability to make local decisions about local matters, including our parks and greenways."

Governor Bill Haslam told the Associated Press he has "major concerns" about the measure. He was mayor of Knoxville when City Council voted to keep its guns in parks ban.

Handgun permit holders are currently allowed to carry guns in Knox County parks.

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