Guns in Public Places

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Had Samuel Noe survived, he would be facing a number of criminal charges.

But he may not have been charged, for taking a gun to the ball park in the first place.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has found Tennessee's gun laws can be unclear, even to those charged with enforcing them.

Tennessee requires you to have a permit, to carry a concealed weapon in public.

By police accounts, Samuel Noe had a permit.

You can face charges for carrying a gun to a public ballpark or recreation faculty.

But only if the authority governing that ball park, or rec facility passes a weapons ban, and posts it.

The Ice Chalet's new season's not even a week old, but certain rules are cold and clear.

"If someone were to come into our facility carrying a gun, I would definitely approach them, or have one of our adult staff say I need you to lock that up outside in your car," says Larry LaBorde, from the Ice Chalet.

Larry LaBorde's got Tennessee law backing him up.

But not as strongly, as if it were a public school.

"Should be the same law, I would think," says Farragut resident Tom Sawyer.

Not even close, get caught bringing a gun into a school.
It's a felony. You could get six years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

But take it to a little league game, or a semi-public facility such as the ice chalet?

A misdemeanor carrying less than a year behind bars, and a slightly lower fine.

"They're gonna be children at either place, give or take, so I think it oughta be the same, yeah," says Sarah Shebaro.

"At a ball game, tempers could flare, probably much more easier than at a school, so change the law," Sawyer says.

"They're going to have to catch you carrying, which is a very rare occurrence," says State Senator Tim Burchett, (R) Knoxville.

State Senator Tim Burchett believes those determined to hurt somebody aren't likely to let tougher firearms penalties stop them.
"On the very outside chance that it would, it might be a good idea to do it. But I just don't think we're gonna see much decline, by passing these laws," Senator Burchett says. "I'm all for gun owners."

The Ice Chalet's co-owner says he's one himself.

But the only bullseyes he wants, are on the rink.

The only blades, on the skate boots.

"We've had fathers that are FBI agents, come through our front door and garnishing their big huge Glocks or whatever, and they were responsible enough to say 'hey, can I hide this somewhere?' And we put it in our safe," says LaBorde.

Again, private businesses, such as the ice chalet, can set their own rules.

A gun owners group, the Tennessee Firearms Association, says it would oppose any toughening of the penalties for carrying guns in public places, on grounds that would violate a law-abiding citizen's right to bear arms.


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