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Fri, Dec 19, 2014

City Council to discuss whether people can carry guns on greenway

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Armed with a city attorney’s opinion that the city government could allow people to carry guns on the greenway while restricting them in other parks, Councilman Eddie Smotherman says he will seek a vote to give people that right.

“It’s truly more of a Second Amendment condition than anything,” says Smotherman, noting he sees no reason to prohibit people with conceal-carry permits from having guns with them as they walk on the city’s greenway system.

The matter is set for discussion on Thursday’s City Council agenda. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Smotherman previously asked the city attorney to determine whether the city could make an exception allowing people to carry firearms on city greenways while continuing to prohibit guns in other city parks.

State law enables city governments to opt out of legislation allowing people to carry guns in parks. Murfreesboro chose to do that about four years ago.

In an opinion issued this week, City Attorney Susan McGannon wrote that based on state law and definitions, it appears “the City Council has the ability to ‘designate’ which parks are subject to prohibition on handguns (and which are not) and to designate a distinction between greenways and other parks.”

If the council decides to exercise its authority to designate and distinguish greenways from parks to allow people to carry handguns, McGannon said she recommends the city specify where they can be carried and use maps to designate areas where guns would be allowed.

Smotherman, who recently lost a Republican primary bid for the state House of Representatives, said he would like to distinguish between parks where competitive games are played and greenways, which can be remote, to allow law-abiding residents to carry weapons for protection.

“My fear is in passing too much handgun legislation we’re creating soft targets for criminals,” Smotherman said.

City Councilman Doug Young said he wants to see a city proposal before he determines whether he favors allowing guns on greenways. The measure could distinguish between “remote” greenway areas and other more populated areas, he said.

The matter could be deferred, he said, and residents may want to broach the subject during the council’s public comments period before the first meeting of the month, which would be in September.

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