published Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Tennessee Attorney General: Cities can ban firing weapons

NASHVILLE -- Local governments can prohibit the discharge of firearms within their jurisdictions in most cases, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper says in a newly released legal opinion.

Cooper said such local bans are legal so long as they don't conflict with state statutes or regulations related to permitted hunting promulgated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.

In his three-page opinion, Cooper noted state lawmakers in recent years expressly preempted local regulation of the "transfer, ownership, possession or transportation" of firearms and ammunition except for allowing cities and counties to ban handgun possession in publicly owned areas such as a public park, nature trail or greenway.

But, Cooper noted, the statute says nothing about discharging a weapon. Similar preemption statutes in states like Arizona and Washington do contain language specifically barring localities from enacting ordinances or rules prohibiting firing a gun.

"Accordingly," Cooper wrote, "the exclusion of the discharge of firearms from those areas expressly delineated within the preemption statute indicates the General Assembly's intent that local governments should retain the authority to regulate that matter within their respective jurisdictions."

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