Memphis official wants to strengthen Tennessee tattoo laws - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill would strengthen Tennessee tattoo laws

A Memphis lawmaker wants tougher tattoo laws because he says underground tattoo parlors are inking images on children - promoting gangs, spreading diseases and hindering future employment. A Memphis lawmaker wants tougher tattoo laws because he says underground tattoo parlors are inking images on children - promoting gangs, spreading diseases and hindering future employment.

(WMC-TV) – A Memphis lawmaker wants tougher tattoo laws because he says underground tattoo parlors are inking images on children - promoting gangs, spreading diseases and hindering future employment.

Tennessee state Rep. Antonio Parkinson hopes tougher tattoo laws will create a better Memphis.

You must be 18 to get a tattoo in Tennessee, 16 with adult consent, but Antonio says children as young as 9 are turning up with illegal tattoos.

"The younger kids and some of these older kids that are in the gangs are getting these tattoos from somewhere and most of the time these tattoos are being done in illegal tattoo houses," Parkinson said.

He's pushing a bill that would make tattoo laws mirror child abuse reporting laws.

"They have to report if they see the tattoos on an underage child just as if they see signs of abuse on a child," he said.

Parkinson said the problem of unmonitored tattoo dens goes far beyond gang insignia.

"We don't know if they're changing needles," he said. "We don't know if diseases are being spread out of these places. They become hangouts for derelict children."

Parkinson also says tattoos can hinder gainful employment. He met one youth who got a job, until supervisors saw her tattoo.

"And they fired her immediately because it doesn't fit their corporate identity," he said.

As a military veteran, Parkinson is personally worried about children making choices before they understand the implications.

"You cannot enter into the military with physical tattoos or you might have to get a waiver to possibly get in," he said.

Parkinson's bill goes to committee next week.

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