published Monday, August 26th, 2013

Cooper says Tennessee cities retain ability to prohibit discharging firearms

NASHVILLE — Local governments can prohibit the discharge of firearms within their jurisdictions in most cases, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper says in a newly released legal opinion.

Cooper said such local bans are legal so long as they don’t conflict with state statutes or regulations related to permitted hunting promulgated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.

In his three-page opinion, Cooper noted state lawmakers in recent years expressly preempted local regulation of the “transfer, ownership, possession or transportation” of firearms and ammunition except for allowing cities and counties to ban handgun possession in publicly owned areas such as a public park, nature trail or greenway.

But, Cooper noted, the statute says nothing about discharging a weapon. Similar preemption statutes in states like Arizona and Washington do contain language specifically barring localities from enacting ordinances or rules prohibiting firing a gun.

“Accordingly,” Cooper wrote, “the exclusion of the discharge of firearms from those areas expressly delineated within the preemption statute indicates the General Assembly’s intent that local governments should retain the authority to regulate that matter within their respective jurisdictions.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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