Controversial gun bill gets calls for veto from Gov. Haslam

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A controversial gun bill passed by state lawmakers is getting calls for a veto.

One of Tennessee’s big city mayors says local governments could be forced to spend millions of dollars to comply with the measure or face lawsuits from gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association.

The controversial bill that grew out of the guns and parks measure passed a few years ago by lawmakers left open a lot of costly questions for local governments.

“There was an attorney general’s opinion that came out that opened the door to, frankly, handgun permit holders to carry at Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium, which was not our intent,” explained sponsor Sen. John Stevens.

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Those places were exempt in the new bill because of the heavy security they already have, but the Safe Tennessee Project says handgun permit holders could still carry weapons on public transit unless they had metal detectors and other security measures.

Safe Tennessee’s policy director, Beth Joslin Roth, and Nashville’s mayor, Megan Barry, both said in letters to Governor Bill Haslam the bill leaves cities with million more in expenses or the option of not complying, which they argue leaves cities more open to lawsuits from gun rights groups.

“The aim of the bill is to make it cost prohibitive for cities to limit where guns can be carried, and that is concerning to us,” Roth told News 2.

She continued, “Local law enforcement should have final say on where guns should be carried, and there should not be a financial penalty.”

RELATED: Nashville mayor asks Tennessee governor to veto gun bill

Roth took her letter to Haslam’s office on Tuesday where she told a staffer why she wants a veto.

“I can also speak as a parent of a child who rides an MTA bus. The idea of folks with guns riding with my son on public transportation terrifies me,” she said.

The governor said Monday he tried to address local government concerns in the bill that was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers.

“At the end, you can veto it, but if something passes two-to-one, you are probably wasting your breath, so you are better to work on front end to get bill in as good a shape as it can be,” Haslam said.

A lot of people from the NRA to local gun safety groups around the state will be watching what the governor does.