The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that a lawsuit brought by Tennessee Firearms Association members to have a court rule that Knoxville violated a 2015 state law that prohibited local governments from banning guns in parks will be dismissed as moot.
In 2015, the Tennessee legislature passed a law which repealed a portion of a law from 2008 that allowed local governments to ban handgun permit holders from having their handguns with them in local parks and other similar recreational areas. After the law went into effect, Knoxville ignored it and banned guns in Chilhowee Park in advance of the State Fair.
As a result of the Knoxville ban, TFA members filed suit with funding by TFA to ask a court to declare that Knoxville was violating the law. The court had previously rejected efforts by Knoxville to dismiss the lawsuits.
However, effective July 1, 2017, a new law sponsored bySen. John Stevens and Rep. William Lamberth (Public Chapter 467) went into effect. According to state records almost every Republican legislator voted for it. In addition, at least one legislative source has said that the law had the overwhelming support of the NRA.
The disastrous effect of the 2017 law is that it now allows local governments, according to Knoxville’s attorneys, to ban handgun permit holders in any public property, including parks, greenways, outdoor recreatoinal areas – even streets and sidewalks – so long as certain security measures are put in place.
The Sentinel reports:
With the passage of a new gun law that took effect July 1, state lawmakers apparently thwarted a lawsuit seeking admission to the Tennessee Valley Fair of people legally carrying firearms.
* * *[Knoxville’s] motion basically states the lawsuit is moot because of the passage of Public Chapter 467. State legislators passed a law that took effect July 1 that allows a local government to declare a gun-free zone if authorities comply with three security conditions.
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Knoxville authorities relied on Public Chapter 467 last weekend when declaring a six-block area of Fort Sanders a gun-free zone during protests and counter-protests concerning removal of a Confederate Civil War monument.
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“The law changed, basically allowing a municipality to rope off an area and create a no-gun zone,” Fox said Tuesday. “The legs of the lawsuit have been undercut by the new law.”
The Tennessee Firearms Association’s membership is furious with this change in the law. It has the effect to substantially reversing the progress that has been made since 2008 to take away local control over public parks so that handgun permit holders could provide for their own self defense in public areas and even streets. Others wonder if the allegation is true that the NRA supported this change in the law and, if so, why.
TFA realizes that many legislators may have voted for this law based on summaries and statements from the sponsors and without fully understanding the drastic and negative consequences. TFA is calling on those legislators to take immediate action in January when they return to service to undo the damage that has been done.
TFA is also asking the bill sponsors to publicly identify who came to them with the damaging amendments to the original bill (if they were not the originators) so that the gun owners of Tennessee can better understand who it is that is working to destroy their rights and to put them at risk particularly with national reports of increased domestic terrorism and assaults on individuals in public.
If you are willing to help, you can join or renew your membership in TFA today.
Of equal importance, you can help by making a voluntary donation of $25, $50, $100 or more to the TFA LAC’s PAC which works to elect and support legislators who will work to fix Tennessee’s law and protect your rights.