Some lawmakers say attorney general’s opinion on guns in parks means problems

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  You can take your gun to Memphis in May, according to a new opinion by Tennessee's Attorney General Herbert Slatery.

Memphis in May had argued that as a third-party contractor renting out Tom Lee Park, it had the right to ban guns from its event, but the opinion issued this week means that's not the case.

"It is not a good idea to have guns at a rock 'n' roll concert during Memphis in May when there are young folks everywhere," Tennessee State Sen. Lee Harris said. "Sometimes quarters are tight, and there is lots of drinking going on."

Sen. Harris said something must be done to alter the way the current Tennessee Guns in Parks law reads. After a request from Sen. Harris, Slatery said handgun carry permit holders cannot be banned from carrying guns in public parks just because they are contracted out by a third party.

"As a producer of events, we have the right to stipulate rules and guidelines for patrons entering the leased park space to attend our events," Memphis in May CEO Jim Holt told WREG in May when asked how the event planned to handle the guns in parks law after it passed.

Friday, Holt told WREG he was waiting to meet with the City of Memphis attorney and the Riverfront Development Corporation before commenting on Slatery's opinion.

Marla Whiting said lawmakers need to step back and really take a look at the law and its impacts.

"You made it a law, so don't be complaining about, well, my son got shot, my grandson got shot or my uncle got shot," she said. "You made it a law for them to carry a gun, so that's going to be a problem."

Previously local governments could decide whether to ban guns in parks, but state lawmakers took away that power this year.

Sen. Harris said democrats, gun safety advocates and law enforcement will be meeting next month to try to figure out how they can get the law changed.