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Run for your life

Farragut's Campbell Station Park sign
Farragut's Campbell Station Park sign
photo by Liston Matthews

Recently, as I was passing by the Campbell Station Park in Farragut, I saw a young female runner cross Campbell Station Road, and disappear into the woods. She was outfitted in typical jogging attire: tank top, shorts and sneakers, with her Ipod on her left biceps and ear-buds providing music to run by.

I couldn't help wonder if she was even aware of what is going on around her. Was she aware of the sexual assault in Ijams Nature Center last summer?

The Town of Farragut has its parks posted against firearms possession by good citizens with handgun carry permits. There was a vote to rescind that ban in October. Contrary to many watchers' expectations, the mayor voted to maintain the current ban.

I wrote Mayor McGill, asking him to reconsider, based on erroneous information he quoted:

From: Liston Matthews
Date: Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Subject: Let's revisit handgun carry in Farragut parks
To: Ralph McGill

Dear Mayor McGill:

I am following up on your recent vote and News-Sentinel quote relative to the carrying of firearms in Farragut Parks by handgun permit holders.

Your vote for the status quo, that is, maintaining the ban in Farragut Parks, was a surprise, and then your quote in the Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 Knoxville News-Sentinel, was an even bigger surprise:

"McGill said he was concerned that school athletic events could not be held in the town’s parks under state regulations that ban such activities in places where guns are allowed."

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Opinion No. 09-129 states, contrary to your quote in the News- Sentinel:

“1. No. There is nothing in the plain meaning of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309, Chapter 428 of the 2009 Public Acts of Tennessee, or any other provision of law, that prohibits schools from using athletic or other recreational facilities in parks where handgun carry permit holders may lawfully possess their firearms pursuant to Chapter 428 of the 2009 Public Acts of Tennessee.” The AG further states, in the last paragraph of his opinion that the statute “. . . indicates that the legislature intended to allow handgun carry permit holders to carry their firearms into public parks except onto athletic fields and into other recreation areas at times when they are actually being used by schools.”

This opinion nowhere finds a legislative intent to “ban such activities in places where guns are allowed.” To the contrary, the plain language reading of the AG opinion puts the onus on handgun carry permit holders to avoid the athletic fields when these athletic events are being held.

In view of these facts, I believe you may have been advised incorrectly regarding the law and the AG opinion. Please go back and read it carefully.

As a fellow believer and member of First Baptist Concord, I ask you to look at what the Lord himself had to say about personal defense weapons. In John 18:11, he states to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” He never said to Peter, “let’s go to Gethsemane, and since its a park, you should leave your sword behind.” On another occasion, Jesus told his followers, in Luke 22:36, “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!”

Even the despotic Roman government did not prohibit the carrying of personal defensive weapons.

All the Town’s ban does is keep honest, law abiding, permitted individuals from effectively exercising their God given, Constitutionally protected right to defense against violent felonious aggression. This puts the Town in the ignoble position of being an accessory before the fact.*

In contrast, Professor John Lott’s research, which led to his book More Guns, Less Crime, settles the fact that the presence of armed good guys has a chilling effect on the crime rate. It has worked everywhere it has been tried. I would be pleased to sit down and discuss this issue with you.

I respectfully ask that you reconsider your position, and bring this issue to a vote again.

Please let me hear from you soon.

Liston Matthews

*Accessory before the fact refers to a person who aids, abets, counsels, commands or encourages the commission of a felony without actually being present at the scene. Such a person is also guilty of the crime.

As of this writing, I have not heard from Mr. McGill.

It is time for Farragut citizens to seriously consider electing a new mayor.

How about you?

Ready to throw your hat in the ring?


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A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.


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