The Tennessee Senate approved a bill Thursday that would lift gun bans in local parks, despite opposition from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and other city leaders.
The Senate voted 26-7 to pass legislation that would undo a 2009 law that let city councils and county commissions decide for themselves whether to permit guns in their parks. But the bill has been held up in the state House of Representatives, where Speaker Beth Harwell said members are trying to find a compromise that would satisfy local leaders.
Dean has lobbied lawmakers to reject Senate Bill 1496. He argues local governments should continue to decide how to police their own parks. Gov. Bill Haslam, a former mayor of Knoxville, also has said he opposes the measure.
Their skepticism has managed to keep debate on the measure from being scheduled in the House. But it nonetheless appears to enjoy wide support among lawmakers.
The measure's sponsor, state Sen. Stacey Campfield, told reporters after the Senate vote that he remains confident it will pass the House — and that he has enough votes to override a veto by Haslam.
"He sent me a letter saying he has philosophical differences with it," said Campfield, R-Knoxville. "Hopefully he's reconsidered his position."
In 2009, the state legislature passed a bill that said people with handgun carry permits should be able to carry in all state or local parks. But lawmakers also included a provision letting local governments opt out and reinstate gun bans. Nashville and most of its suburbs still ban handguns.
The House has delayed the guns-in-parks bill and others related to handguns until later in the session. Harwell said legislators plan to amend the measure.
"I think our members really respect local control," said Harwell, R-Nashville. "Members just want to be sensitive to local control, but we are still very pro-Second Amendment rights. We're trying to balance that."
Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or on Twitter @chassisk.