Knox County parents voice opinions on proposed ‘guns in parks’ bill

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A bill that would allow guns in parks, playgrounds and sports fields is closer to becoming law. The State Senate approved the idea Wednesday with one amendment that said handgun carry permit holders could also bring their weapons to the Tennessee State Capitol.

The City of Knoxville owns 81 parks and doesn’t allow people to carry guns at any of them.Previous story: Senate passes bill allowing handguns at state Capitol

At Tyson Park near the University of Tennessee, parents and their children were playing. People were running and riding their bikes. However, if the bill goes into effect, you could also see people carrying guns in the park.

“I have two young girls that as a father, in general, I’m obligated to protect,” said Matt Peppers of Knoxville.

Peppers is one 500,000 people in the state that has a handgun carry permit. This bill would allow people like Peppers to carry a gun there. He supports the proposal and thinks that guns should be allowed in most places including parks, but not every parent is on board with it.

“We don’t think that moms or children should be worried about who’s got the gun next to the play set or the sandbox,” said Em Chitty of The Tennessee Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Right now, it’s up to local governments to decide whether or not guns are allowed in parks. In Knoxville, they’re not, but if that bill did go through, it would take away that choice.

Chitty says the group isn’t against the Second Amendment. Instead, she said they’re for common sense gun laws.

Nevertheless, Peppers said people should have the choice to arm themselves in a park.

“Not to make it sound by any means like something is going to happen, but it’s the ‘if.’ If something happens, be prepared,” said Peppers.

Mayor Madeline Rogero’s office issued this statement to WATE 6 On Your Side: “I am disappointed with the legislation that passed in the Senate. We believe this should be a matter of local authority, and our existing policy has worked very well to keep our parks safe and welcoming for all.”

The bill will now go back to the State House where they will vote on the proposal with the amendment. If approved, it will then head to Governor Haslam’s desk.

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