Guns in parks bill leaves questions for Murfreesboro City Schools

Guns in parks

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – After the passing of the guns in parks bill, one local school director is considering purchasing signs to put on display when students are at state parks.

The law makes it clear that guns are not allowed in the “immediate vicinity” of school-related activities taking place in parks.

Murfreesboro City Schools Director Dr. Linda Gilbert said signs would let the public know if a school-related function is underway.

Murfreesboro City Schools Director Dr. Linda Gilbert
Murfreesboro City Schools Director Dr. Linda Gilbert

School officials said there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the guns in parks law. They say they need more clarification, and until they get it, they are taking a proactive approach.

“We are going to have a larger number of field trips in the summer to parks. Obviously the weather is nice, and we want to want our children to get outside; we want them to play and interact,” Gilbert told News 2.

On Wednesday, city school students visited the Discovery Center, which shares property with the Murfree Springs Wetland area, which is part of the city park system.

Currently there are signs prohibiting guns at the recreation area.

Gilbert said the board wants to make sure the law is understood and the public is properly warned.

“I think together we will be fleshing out what we can do to make sure our children are safe,” she explained.

One mother of three is happy state lawmakers passed the guns in parks bill, especially since there have been robberies on the trails at Murfree Springs Wetland.

“I know for myself I’ll feel a lot safer with somebody who’s carrying a permit carrying a gun rather than someone who doesn’t have a permit carrying a gun,” Amy Harrington told News 2.

Harrington’s children are home-schooled, but she said she understands the parameters Murfreesboro City schools officials are up against.

“I understand the school board’s concern,” she said. “I feel like it does put them in rather a sticky situation, kind of a catch-22, because you don’t really want guns around children, but honestly someone trained to carry a gun is a lot safer.”

Murfreesboro City Schools guns in park
The law makes it clear that guns are not allowed in the “immediate vicinity” of school-related activities taking place in parks.

There is language in the bill that states, in part, that a person with a handgun permit may not be within the “immediate vicinity” of a school-sponsored event at a park, greenway or recreational area.

“The guidelines are going to need to come out from the state about what ‘immediately vicinity’ means,” Dr. Gilbert said.

The schools director also said nothing has been set in stone, and after they get clarification, they will revise their plan.

“I’ll be working with our director of parks and recreation to see what they are going to do; we have a tremendous partnership with them,” Gilbert said. “I think together we will be fleshing out what we can do to make sure our children are safe.”

The district wants to have the signs printed in time for summer field trips for after-school programs at all 12 city schools.

Murfreesboro city spokesman Mike Browning released the following statement regarding the guns in parks law:

Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department is committed to providing a safe and accessible place for our citizens to enjoy our parks. We are creating a signage replacement package to share new park rules with our users regarding law relative to weapons with our users. In compliance with state law, the signage will reflect that while weapons are prohibited in the park, there are exceptions for lawfully carried handguns in certain areas. In areas in which school activities are taking place, there are additional restrictions relative to handguns.

We are currently finalizing the replacement package in preparation for replacement of existing signs, as well as preparing additional signage in cooperation with the many schools that frequently visit our parks. The sign package will include permanent signage as well as portable “sandwich boards” that can be placed by schools as they visit.”

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