published Friday, August 14th, 2009

East Ridge changes course to ban weapons

by Adam Crisp
Audio clip

Public comments


How East Ridge officials voted on a proposed gun ban in public parks.

* Mayor Mike Steele - yes

* Vice Mayor Tom Card - yes

* Councilman Brent Lamber - yes

* Councilman Larry Sewell - yes

* Councilman Denny Manning - not present


* Chattanooga, Hamilton County, the towns of Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., and Walden, have joined East Ridge in banning guns in parks.

* Red Bank and Soddy-Daisy have voted to allow guns in parks.

On the second try, East Ridge councilmen reversed previous inaction on a guns-in-parks measure and decided unanimously to ban firearms permit holders from carrying weapons in any city park.

That Thursday vote was the second time a motion about the issue had come before town leaders. Last month, the same proposal failed because only one council member appeared to support the motion. It didn't get a second, so no vote was taken.

Thursday, City Manager William Whitson recommended councilmen vote for the ban, because of adverse financial consequences if athletic tournaments decided not to play at sprawling Camp Jordan Park. He also warned of complications by a Tennessee attorney general's opinion that school athletics couldn't be played at parks that allowed guns.

"If we don't pass (this resolution), I will be forced to write the principal of East Ridge High School ... and they will have to decide whether to cancel their events at Camp Jordan," Mr. Whitson said.

Members of the public pleaded their case for and against the measure before the council. Mayor Mike Steele, however, limited comments Thursday to just three parties on either side of the issue.

Councilman Brent Lambert, the body's newest member, said the decision was agonizing.

"There really is not a right opinion on this issue," Mr. Lambert said. "For us, this is extremely hard. It's an emotional issue, but we have to step back from the emotion and make a decision we are comfortable with."

Vice Mayor Tom Card, who at last month's meeting said he was against a gun ban because it infringed on constitutional rights, indicated he would like to see two additional all-terrain vehicles be employed at the park to allow city employees to more fully patrol the area.

At last month's meeting, Mr. Sewell's motion to pass the ban failed for lack of a second. Mr. Steele, who votes but cannot second motions, asked the measure be placed back on the agenda this month. Mr. Sewell, the lone backer of the ban at last month's meeting, said he'd also like to see additional trimming of trees in the wooded area to add protection at the park.

Councilman Denny Manning was not at Thursday's meeting, but the remaining council members and the mayor voted in favor of the ban.

Virtually every council in the state has been hit with the question of whether or not to allow guns in parks after the state legislature this year said gun permit holders could carry their weapons in parks.

Cities and counties can opt out, but they must do so by Sept. 1, the statute reads.

So far in Hamilton County only Soddy-Daisy and Red Bank have decided to allow guns in parks.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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my2centstoo said...

Actually, there is a right opinion on this matter. What's agonizing about it is the fact that so few of our leaders will stand to defend the constitutional rights of law abiding Americans. Criminals are not going to obey this ban, but law abiding citizens will not be able to defend themselves or their families. I was proud to hear that the counsel of East Ridge had upheld the right of the people last week, but now, I am embarrassed that only two towns in our county have had the guts to stand for Amercian values. Thanks for giving child molestors, serial killers, thugs, rapists, and the like free reign over our parks. By the way, Alcohol kills more people than guns. Why not ban the sale of that evil substance in our town?

August 14, 2009 at 10:54 a.m.
H0TSH0T said...

This is a tough issue, we all care about kids, we want our loved ones to be safe, who out there will protect them if the people that love them most can't protect them, accidents happen, mistakes will be made, but to deny the opportunity to protect ourselves is ridiculous. If we can't count on ourselves, and the police have a sub par reputation after last weeks shootings, both in East Ridge and Chattanooga, the ladder being the worse, with 53 shots fired at less than 5yards and 50% miss ratio at best resulting in death. I say keep your kids at home, they have a better chance being shot by police than a hcp (hand gun permit) holder. a firearm is a tool much like a car, you have to know the law, how and when to use it, it would have made more since if they were to ban cars from bars than to restrict the right to protect oneself, after all cars are the number one killer of people under 35, I think Mr. Steel should be embarrassed for the lack of knowledge he has for the law, and the emotional cries from the ignorant fear mongering people that he could not intelligently explain the law to, he lacks moxie, and honesty(read the transcript, he mentioned phone call with the principal of erhs regarding play ball or not,regarding schools, and new law that does not take effect till the 1st, the ball games are next week ((BEFORE THE VOTE)) ), he just made East Ridge a more dangerous place to live.

August 15, 2009 at midnight

do we see bars giving out breathalyzer tests at the door to see who is drunk and who isnt? drinking and driving is illegal and it still goes on and it kills thousands of people every day.

east ridge is a joke. i used to work there and i am glad that i no longer am employed there. the ER counsel is scared of upsetting the soccer mom sterotypes and the retired people too.. that is all east ridge has. retired people and soccer moms.

Red Bank and Soddy Daisy welcomed the new law. both counsels there made the admission that this is a very dangerous world, and they know that the police response time is not instant. the sooner that the Chatt and ER counsels stop worrying about who might get mad, the better off they will be.

i am mad at nashville for allowing an opt out clause in a State Law. it should be just that. a LAW. dont like it? move.

August 15, 2009 at 1:47 a.m.
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