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Thread: Counties and cities banning guns in parks don't have to post signs

  1. #1
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    Attorney General Opinion concerning lack of signs at parks. Best bet may be to not not carry in a park at all until the Legislature fixes this preemption garbage.

    New opinion as of 9-22-09 09-158.

    Question 6

    "If a county or municipality chooses to prohibit the carrying of firearms in parks which



    they own, could a permit holder be convicted of violating Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311 if such
    county or municipality failed to comply with the posting requirements set forth in Chapter 428?"



    Opinion 6





    "A handgun carry permit holder who carries a firearm into a county or municipal park


    where the county or municipality has prohibited such carrying could still be convicted of


    violating Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311 even if such county or municipality failed to comply
    with the posting requirements that are set forth in section 2(e)(2) of Chapter 428."



    Analysis 6





    "You ask if a handgun carry permit holder could be convicted of violating Tenn. Code



    Ann. § 39-17-1311 for carrying a firearm into a county or municipal park where such carrying is



    prohibited if the county or municipality failed to comply with the posting requirements that are



    set forth in Chapter 428. In the prosecution of a criminal case, the State bears the burden of



    proving every element of an offense.
    State v. Dotson, 254 S.W.3d 378 (Tenn. 2008). The



    question is thus whether proof that such signs were properly posted is an element of the offense.



    If the failure to post signs in a park where the carrying of firearms is prohibited is such an



    element, then a carry permit holder could not be convicted of violating Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-



    17-1311 if the state failed to prove that such signs were posted. On the other hand if proof of



    such posting is not an element, then a handgun carry permit holder could be convicted of



    violating Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311 even if the county or municipality that has prohibited



    the carrying of firearms in parks which they own has failed to post the required signage.



    State v. Brooks,
    741 S.W.2d 920 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1987), is directly on point. In that



    case, the court held that the failure of a school to satisfy the sign posting requirements was not a



    defense to a charge of carrying a firearm on school grounds. The court concluded that the sign



    posting requirement was not an element of the offense. Applying the reasoning in
    Brooks to



    Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311, as amended by Chapter 428, the posting of signs in parks where



    the carrying of firearms is prohibited is not an element of a violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-



    17-1311. A handgun carry permit holder could therefore be convicted of violating Tenn. Code



    Ann. § 39-17-1311 for carrying a firearm into a county or municipal park, where such carrying is

    prohibited, even if such county or municipality failed to post the required signs."


    The AG points to State v. Brooks, 741 S.W.2d 920 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1987). TCA 39-17-1309 states that the school grounds shall be posted in prominent locations about a school. When was the last last time you saw a sign posted at a school? My daughters school has 1 sign inside the building and it isn't posted in a prominent location. The opinion sucks, but it does make sense.

  2. #2
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    Lobelville, Tennessee, USA
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    Looks like the burden is placed squarely on the carrier, to know if carrying of firearms is prohibited in county/city parks, or not.

    In my county, we don't have but a couple county parks. Both are ball parks mainly and the county did not go the opt-out route. However, the local schools use the ball parks for their baseball and softball events, which would make the parks off-limits during those events. Other athletic leagues that use the facilities may have their own prohibitions that would be enforceable as well.

    I had spoekn to one of the county commissioners about whether the county was goihng to opt-out or not and he told me that they hadn't even discussed it and didn't expect the county to do anything about it. He also has a HCP.

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