A controversial gun bill passed by state lawmakers is getting calls for a veto. One of Tennessee’s big city mayors says local governments could be forced to spend millions of dollars to comply with the measure, or face lawsuits from gun rights groups like the NRA.
The controversial bill grew out of the guns and parks measure passed a few years ago by lawmakers that left open a lot of costly questions for local governments.
“There was an attorney general’s opinion that came out that opened the door to, frankly, handgun permit holders to carry at Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium, which was not our intent,” says the bill’s sponsor Sen. John Stevens (R – Huntingdon).
Those places were exempted in the new bill because of the heavy security they already have, but the Safe Tennessee Project policy director says handgun permits holders could still carry weapons on public transit, unless they had metal detectors and other security measures.
She and Nashville mayor Megan Barry both said in letters to Governor Bill Haslam that the bill leaves cities with millions more in expenses, or the option of not complying, which they argued leaves cities more open to lawsuits from gun rights groups like the NRA.
“The aim of the bill is to make it cost prohibitive for cities to limit where guns can be carried and that is concerning to us,” says Beth Joslin Roth with Safe Tennessee Project. “Local law enforcement should have final say on where guns should be carried, and there should not be a financial penalty.”
Joslin Roth took her letter Tuesday to the governor’s office, where she told a staffer why she wants a veto.
“I can also speak as a parent of a child who rides an MTA bus. The idea of folks with guns riding with my son on public transportation terrifies me,” says Joslin Roth.
The Governor Monday said he tried to address local government concerns in the bill that was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers.
“At the end you can veto it, but if something passes two to one, you are probably wasting your breath, so you are better to work on front end to get bill in as good a shape as it can be,” said the Governor.
A lot of people, from the NRA to local gun safety groups around TN, will be watching what Gov. Haslam does.
Along with a veto, the governor has two other options. One, he can sign it into law, or two: not sign a bill and let it become law without his signature.