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Public Park or Impromptu Firing Range

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Senator Stacey Campfield’s Senate Bill 1496, which would strip municipalities of the ability to ban handguns in public parks, has hit me where I live. As a 68-year-old Nashvillian, I agree with Mayor Karl Dean – “guns in Nashville parks is a bad idea”. I also note in passing that this is one more attempt to take all authority in Tennessee into the hands of the state, regardless of local realities.

Even though I’ve been warned from early childhood on never to enter a park after sunset without at least one male companion, Nashville’s major parks are relatively crime-free. Even in inner city Cleveland Park, you have only a 1 in 64 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. This raises an interesting question. What the deleted expletive do you want with a handgun in a Metro park?

Senator Campfield says allowing cities to ban handguns in their parks is “confusing, unconstitutional, and unsafe”. I won’t pose as a state constitutional expert, but anybody who doesn’t know what park he is in either can’t read or is so confused he shouldn’t be trusted with a handgun. We mark our parks pretty well. As for ‘unsafe’, is the senator implying local parks are not safe if you’re not toting a handgun? I want an apology!

What, pray tell, does one do with a handgun in a Metropolitan Nashville park? Handguns are not appropriate weapons for hunting, even assuming there is game onsite. There are no handgun or rifle ranges for target practice. These are available in other places and require equipment not generally available in free parks.

Ultimately, handguns are to shoot people and serve little other purpose. Unfortunately, the qualifications for conceal and carry permits do not screen out those who have a history of domestic violence. The senator and his cohorts will just make Metro parks another unsafe place for domestic violence victims.

Also, if ‘conceal and carry’ permit holders can ‘pack heat’ in the parks, does that mean park police will no longer stop anybody carrying a weapon? There are plenty of people in Nashville – thanks in part to Senator Campfield’s policies – desperate enough to seek desperate means to get a dollar – or a meal.

I’m sure the actors and patrons of Shakespeare in the Park will be happy to wear bulletproof vests in case of a crazed shooter. That will spice up night Little League games, too.

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