The sponsor of an ordinance allowing handgun-carry permit holders to bring guns into rural Metro parks deferred the bill indefinitely last night after learning “no-gun” signs would be required when Metro students occupy the parks for school purposes.
Councilman Sam Coleman, who represents parts of Antioch, had originally tried to exempt nine rural parks from Metro’s ban on guns in the city's green spaces. That number decreased by four when some Council members objected to permitting guns inside parks within their districts.
The bill came in response to an August vote by the Council to opt out of a state law passed this spring allowing handgun-carry permit holders to possess guns in parks, an action also carried out by numerous other municipalities.
But a legal opinion issued Monday by the Metro Department of Law said if the Council approved Coleman’s bill then Metro Parks would be responsible for hanging signs at certain times because of a state prohibition of guns where school is conducted.
“If someone has another way they want to solve that, a suggestion was made as signs,” Metro Legal Director Sue Cain said. “But there’s a problem with having school children at school activities on these parks.”
The Council narrowly voted against an amendment to adopt the sign policy, with some members expressing concern over the confusion it would cause park visitors.
But even if the sign amendment had passed, Coleman said he still planned to defer the bill to provide time to go the General Assembly to “clear up” items within the state’s guns-in-parks law. He doesn’t appear ready to give up on his bill just yet.
“I am not advocating a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other hand, but there are people in all our districts … that have a right to have this issue heard.” Coleman said. “That’s all I’m trying to do.”
In other Council business:
- At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard deferred his bill that sought to install more public art beyond downtown, as he cited several questions that the Metro Arts Commission still needs to answer. The Council is expected to revisit the bill at its March 16 meeting.
The ordinance would allocate 75 percent of revenues generated from Metro’s “Percent for the Arts” program evenly among Nashville’s nine school districts. Twenty-five percent would be reserved for downtown.
Signed into law by former Mayor Bill Purcell, “Percent for the Arts” sets aside 1 percent of all net proceeds of general obligation bonds issued for public construction projects and dedicates it to public art.
Tygard said he intends to draft a letter to arts commission chair Jane Alvis to inquire about issues involving the geographic diversity of the commission, the original intent of the “Percent for the Arts” program, the cost of the public relations firm employed by the commission and why the commission aims to place art in the proposed convention center ahead of community projects.
- Meanwhile, Councilman Eric Crafton deferred his bill that would require the 117-acre property be utilized in no other fashion that its current form. Uses would be limited to a fair, racetrack, expo center and storage facility for the Davidson County Election Commission.
Crafton cited an act in the Metro Charter that he said mandates Metro Government hold an annual fair.
“The reason I’m deferring is I want the research done to tell me why we’re not complying with what these acts say,” Crafton said.
Crafton withdrew a separate memorializing resolution that would have asked the fair board hold a state fair in 2010, as he said he plans to incorporate it into his deferred ordinance.
- A deferral was also made for a resolution sponsored by Council members Erica Gilmore and Mike Jameson that requests eminent domain proceedings in acquiring land for Nashville’s proposed $585 million convention center be delayed until a finance package is approved.
Gilmore said pending eminent domain legal proceedings led to the decision, combined with the arrival of Thursday’s unveiling of the finance plan.
- The Council also approved a request to defer a separate memorializing resolution filed by Jameson and Councilman Darren Jernigan that asks Council members to recognize a set of guidelines and principles when discussing the convention center, along with any other issues, with constituents at community meetings.