Tattoo artist petitions to change Temple tattoo ordinance - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

TEMPLE

Tattoo artist petitions to change Temple tattoo ordinance

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TEMPLE -

A local tattoo artist is fighting a controversial city law that bans tattoo shops in Temple.

Christopher Simmons is a tattoo artist with more than a decade of experience. He drives 45 minutes to king pin tattoo studio in Harker Heights everyday because a city law in temple bans him from opening a studio in his hometown.

Temple City Attorney Jonathan Graham says the law was put in place more than two decades ago for health and safety reasons.     

"It prohibits someone from having that business or being a tattoo artist unless they are a physician," say Graham.

Licensed tattoo shops like King Pin are heavily regulated by the state and have to follow a strict sterilization process that includes always wearing gloves and keeping anything sterile away from anything used or dirty.

Simmons says the ordinance is indirectly encouraging people to try home tattooing because equipment can easily be bought in the mall.

"They kind of advertise it that way. That you can do this at home and that they will sell it to anybody. So you know it's a real health risk," says Simmons.

"We don't control the sale of that equipment," says Graham. "Whether you're qualified to do that or use that equipment, is something that the individual has to decide for themselves."

Tattoo artists say about 40 percent of their business is covering up tattoos that weren't done professionally.

Simmons says allowing licensed tattoo shops in the city would be better for everyone.

"Professional tattoo studios only benefit the public health because they're done in the correct manner."

Simmons also argues the ban is a violation of his right to free speech but the city doesn't see it that way.

"I would say they need to make that argument in court," says Graham. "We haven't seen that in Texas."

Simmons started the Temple Texas Advocacy Group and hopes to collect enough signatures to force the city council to put it on their agenda. To do that, he'll need one third of the voting population, roughly 10,000 signatures.

He is also launching his own tattoo studio in Morgan's Point called Lucky in Love and is expected to open this September. Simmons says his goal is to be the first tattoo shop in Temple.

You can find that petition and more information about the advocacy group here.

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