By SAM HATCHER Kudos to the Watertown mayor and city council. To date, this one municipality in southeast Wilson County is the only local government that has voted to opt out of the much controversial new law that allows gun permit holders to carry their weapons into public parks. Legislative bodies representing the City of Lebanon, Wilson County government and the City of Mt. Juliet by their action or the lack thereof have moved on the side of allowing guns in public parks. Mt. Juliet voted this week to not opt out of the law and the City of Lebanon and Wilson County Commission have not taken any action on the matter. If a government does not vote to opt out by Sept. 1, the new law is to apply. Watertown’s leaders have exercised good judgment in their decision. They have essentially said there have been no problems in public parks in this community without guns being legally allowed so why now change that and allow guns. There is an old saying, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Watertown’s city government, apparently based on its history, believes there’s not a problem there now so why create one. Watertown doesn’t want guns in its parks and neither do many other local governments across the state.
This legislation sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers has all the trappings of becoming a very dangerous proposition. It sends a bad message and has the potential of greatly damaging the image of our individual communities. The law has been opposed by law enforcement agencies, both local and statewide, and by the state’s district attorneys. These are people who must deal with crime and guns on a daily basis. If they think this is a bad law, there surely is good reason to believe they are right. Guns have their place. But not in public parks.