Knoxville, its Mayor, its Chief of Police and Others Sued for Violating Constitutional Rights of Firearms Owners
The Second Amendment states that the right of the citizens, a right preexisting the Constitution, “… shall not be infringed ….” Similarly, the Tennessee Constitution in Article I, Section 26, expressly protects the rights of the citizens to keep, bear and wear arms.
A lawsuit was been filed on February 11, in Knoxville, Tennessee alleging that the City, Mayor Madeleine Rogero, the Chief of Police David Rausch, the Tennessee Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair and Scott Suchmoski, individually and in a conspiracy, have violated a Tennessee law that was passed in 2015 which bans, with only minor exceptions, local governments from prohibiting civilian handgun permit holders from legally carrying firearms into places that are considered parks. The lawsuit arises from the concerted action by these entities and individuals in 2015, after the law went into effect, to prohibit citizens with handgun permits from carrying their handguns in Chilhowee Park.
As the state fair was approaching in 2015, the city declared guns would be banned from Chilhowee Park for the event. However, an opinion by the Tennessee attorney general concluded that even private events in public parks would not be exempt from the 2015 state law that prohibited local governments from banning the carrying of handguns in public parks. Knoxville asserted that Chilhowee Park was not a “park” but that it was instead a public entertainment venue.
John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, announced that “the TFA is fully supportive of this lawsuit as being necessary to enforce the rights of citizens when local governments and related parties disregard a state law that they apparently disagree with and impose, under threat of law enforcement arrest, illegal restrictions on the rights of citizens to provide for their own self-defense.”
“History proves that gun free zones are a primary target for multiple victim shootings such as we have seen across the nation at movie theaters, malls, churches, schools and even National Guard posts. In 2015, the Tennessee Legislature moved to eliminate some of Tennessee’s gun free zones by prohibiting local governments from regulating the possession of firearms by civilians who have handgun carry permits in public parks,” Harris said. “We do not need yet more Chattanooga incidents in public venues to confirm that the individual citizen is not safe in a government created gun free zone.”