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City Council votes down guns on the greenway

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Guns on greenways will have to wait.

In a 5-2 vote Thursday night, the City Council rejected a measure asking the city attorney and staff to write a resolution allowing weapons to be carried at city trailheads and greenways but not in other park areas such as Kids Castle.

Council members Eddie Smotherman and Toby Gilley backed the measure, but it was opposed by Mayor Shane McFarland and council members Rick LaLance, Ron Washington, Madelyn Scales Harris and Doug Young.

Smotherman proposed the resolution after City Attorney Susan McGannon opined that, based on state laws and definitions, the city could differentiate between parks and greenways, where it now bans all weapons, and allow people with conceal-carry permits to go armed on greenways. She recommended maps be drawn to show people where guns could be carried.

Smotherman said people with conceal-carry permits already take guns with them on the greenway and such a measure would make it legal.

“It’s irrelevant the number of crimes on the greenway,” Smotherman said. “This is a constitutional question.”

Gilley, a long-distance runner, backed him, saying he doesn’t run on the greenway because of the city’s prohibition on guns.

“I do not feel safe running on some parts of the greenway,” said Gilley, who is set to step down from the council by Sept. 1 to take a General Sessions Court judge seat.

But they were outnumbered by council members who felt the matter made little sense or should go through the city’s committee system.

Scales Harris called it nonsensical to allow guns on some sections of the greenway and prohibit them on others.

“Either we’re going to have guns on the greenway or we’re not,” said Scales Harris, who asked Police Chief Glenn Chrisman to explain exhaustive firearms training for officers and compared that to a day of training for those who hold conceal-carry permits.

LaLance told council members he was surprised the matter was being put to a vote Thursday night after little time for consideration.

“I don’t know how that map gets drawn,” he said, of McGannon’s suggestion that signs designate where weapons could be carried on the city’s 13 miles of greenways.

McGannon earlier said weapons could be prohibited in greenway areas near Kids Castle, for example, but allowed on a greenway planned near Walter Hill Park north of town.

Mayor Shane McFarland was adamant that such a proposal should go through the Parks and Recreation Commission and Greenway Committee before reaching the council.

“I don’t feel comfortable voting for anything if we don’t have details,” McFarland said.

Young agreed that the measure should go through committees, as well, while Washington, even though he respected the rights of gun owners, said, “I’m just not a guns person, so I’m going to vote ‘no’ on this bad boy.”



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Members Opinions:
August 23, 2014 at 9:35am
I think that the City Council did an excellent job of avoiding a Nancy Pelosi style "sign it and read it later" disaster. The request(s) for details was very well founded and would have exposed the many legal land mines in the proposal if approved verbatim. The Council wisely decided that the "Barney Fifes" would have to keep their bullets in their shirt pocket.
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