BRISTOL, Tenn. - People going to most Bristol, Tennessee parks will now be allowed to carry handguns as long as they have a conceal and carry permit, but the idea is getting mixed reaction.
Handguns are now allowed in 28 of the 31 city parks in Bristol, Tennessee. We found people both for and against the changes. "If something was to happen it would be good to have somebody there with a gun that could get in and help," says Dominic Dinattia, who is in favor of the change.
"There should be no reason why a person should have to have a gun in this park," adds Terry Cornett, who is against the change.
State law allows permit holders to carry weapons but local governments have the right to amend that and make their own rules, which is what Bristol decided to do in 2009; now the ban is gone. "They can now lawfully have that weapon on their person just like they could at Walmart or any other place in the city," says Bristol, Tennessee Parks and Recreation Director Terry Napier.
Napier says there are three parks where the ban still applies that's at Avoca Ball Fields, Haynesfield Pool, and Holston View Park. "Since they're really a part of the school campus, [we need] to maintain that gun-free zone," adds Napier.
Napier says at the parks where you're not allowed to have a gun on you, you can still have it with you as long as it's inside your car in a concealed location like the glove box or your trunk. "I can simply take my pistol off my belt put it in the trunk of my car and proceed on and I'm not in violation of the law," says Napier.
Napier tells us people who have conceal and carry permits have gone through several classes. "These are people who understand that responsibility and you're not going to see a difference," he said.
Napier also tells us workers are in the process of taking down the "no guns" signs in parks where guns are now allowed.
We also checked with Bristol, Virginia, who tells us people who have conceal and carry permits are already allowed to carry guns in the city parks.