JONESBOROUGH, TN (WJHL) – Jonesborough Town Administrator Bob Browning says officials meant to take down the town’s signs banning guns in parks earlier this month, but the effort “got lost in the shuffle.”
Despite the message on the town’s signs warning of jail time and a fine for those carrying weapons on park property, Jonesborough and other towns and cities have not had the authority to ban guns in parks since late April, when Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation reversing a law that previously allowed governments to enact local gun bans.
“It was our understanding that the change in the law went into effect July 1,” Browning said earlier this week. “We had communicated with the Town Attorney on the impact of the bill, and I think he was on vacation and let it slip by.”
Jonesborough leaders originally banned guns in parks in 2009 as part of an effort to legally keep weapons out of little league games and Wetlands Water Park. After legislators changed the law earlier this year Browning says the town had every intention of taking the signs down.
“We certainly intended to abide by it,” Browning said. “When the legislation was passed and signed it went to our Town Attorney just to clarify what our responsibility was and just to be honest with you, it hasn’t been necessarily a big priority. Nobody said anything about it. It sort of got lost in the shuffle for us. We’re doing some really good projects and it just slipped through the cracks. When the issue was raised we ended up taking the signs down.”
Jonesborough crews removed the signs earlier this week after we reached out to Browning on behalf of a viewer. Although Jonesborough has since taken action it remains unclear if the town was legally obligated to do so.
“Our interpretation is that the law is silent on if or when local governments should remove any signs they currently have at parks, though their authority to post them has been removed,” Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Communications Director Jennifer Donnals said. “Also, the legislation authorizes ‘any department of state government’ to keep up the signs until they are regularly scheduled to be removed or replaced, or had to be removed or replaced due to damage, though it also authorizes any state department to remove signs before then.”
According to Donnals, it is her understanding the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has removed some signs but not all signs at state parks in Tennessee.
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