Videos by OutKick
It may be legal for Tennessee Titan fans to take their guns to football games at Nissan Field this fall. The same would be true for those attending a Nashville Predators hockey game or a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game. That’s according to a recent opinion from Tennessee’s attorney general analyzing a law that allows guns in state parks and other recreational facilities that specifically overrides any city rules or regulations that would prohibit guns in those places.
According to the attorney general’s opinion:
“By its plain terms, as amended, (the law) applies to all parks and all other recreational facilities that are owned or operated by a county or municipality. County or municipal ownership is all that is needed to bring the property within the scope of the statute….
Likewise, it is irrelevant whether access is controlled by physical barriers or not. Moreover, an admission or use charge or a fence would not cause a public park or other public facility to lose its status as a public park or public facility.”
Nashville lawyer Junaid Odubeko — full disclosure, we were law school classmates and he’s a good friend — explained the conflict between state and local law as well as the policies of each sports league which ban weapons at their games.
“When it passed the new law, the legislature intended to strip local governments of the power to ban permit holders from carrying guns in local, public parks and similar areas. As the law moved through the legislative process, many people raised concerns about unintended consequences. In a recent opinion, the Tennessee Attorney General interpreted the law as not allowing local governments to ban guns in their parks and other recreational facilities, even if the governments contract with third parties to operate the facilities. This interpretation opens the door to concealed carry permit holders being allowed to bring their weapons into facilities like Nissan Stadium, FedEx Forum, and Bridgestone Arena, which are all owned by local governments and operated by third parties. The AG’s interpretation of the law would certainly conflict with a league policy banning guns in these facilities.”
This means that unless the state legislature provides clarity on law, people with legal carry permits could arrive at these sporting events and be permitted under state law to enter the games with their guns. Presumably the security guards in charge of enforcing NFL, NBA, and NHL policies would not permit these individuals to enter with their weapons. Whereupon those individuals could file suit seeking a declaratory judgment that their rights were being infringed upon under state law, which has precedent over local laws and also the rules of sports leagues.
The state legislature has already adjourned for the year and unless the governor calls them back for a special session — which is very unlikely — then the AG’s opinion of the law will govern through this football season and into the NBA and NHL seasons as well.