CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Some Bradley County commissioners say they cannot support banning handguns in county parks if the carrier has a permit.
County Parks and Recreation Director Paul Wyrick is asking the county officials to opt out of the new state law. A vote is scheduled Monday.
The new law allows anyone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon to do so in all state and local parks. Local governments may opt out of the law, if they wish. The deadline for opting out is Sept. 1.
"It is very important that we pass this (opt-out provision)," Mr. Wyrick told commissioners are their workshop Monday night. "My staff is not trained to deal with guns."
Some commissioners pointed out that people with permits have been trained and gone through background checks.
"This would only apply to law-abiding citizens," Commissioner Jim Smith said.
"So these are responsible citizens," Commissioner Ed Elkins added. "Those who would come in with no good intentions won't care about the law anyway."
The state General Assembly vote shows there is widespread support for allowing people with permits to carry concealed weapons in parks, Commissioner Ben Atchley said.
"I understand the dilemma for the parks director," Mr. Atchley said. "(But) I don't think I can take away the rights of a law abiding citizen to protect themselves."
The issue came up Monday at the Cleveland City Council.
City Manager Janice Casteel urged the city officials to opt out of the state law. Only police should be carrying guns in city parks, she said.
But the council split 3-3 with one absent, meaning the measure did not pass and leaving the city open to concealed guns in parks.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...