Tennessee Passes Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Concealed Handguns

Some teachers as well as staff members at Tennessee public schools will soon be allowed to carry concealed handguns on the grounds of the school after Republicans in the House passed a new bill this week.

Many people protested the bill after it was passed this week, as other teachers and parents will also be barred from knowing who was carrying a gun.

The bill passed with a vote of 68-28, which sent it along to Republican Governor Bill Lee to sign. If he does indeed sign the bill into law, it would represent the largest expansion of access to guns since the deadly shooting that took place at a Nashville private elementary school last year.

People who were against the proposal harangued the GOP lawmakers who passed it after the vote was taken. As a result, House Speaker Cameron Sexton ordered that the galleries at the state House be cleared.

All Tennessee Democrats as well as four Republicans in the House opposed the bill, which was previously passed by the state Senate.

For staff members to be able to carry guns, a law enforcement agency, school district and principal would have to agree to it. The law also would make it so that only police and school administrators would know which employees were carrying guns on school grounds.

That means other teachers and parents wouldn’t have access to that information.

Following last year’s school shooting at The Covenant School, Lee pushed to keep guns out of the hands of people who were deemed to be a danger to others or themselves. But, republican legislators cast that effort aside quite quickly.

While Lee certainly has the option of vetoing the bill, it seems unlikely that he will do so. If he does, it would be the first time that he used those powers. Even if he were to veto it, though, it would only take a simple majority of both of the state’s chambers to override it.

Before the vote on the bill was taken, its sponsor, state Representative Ryan Williams, a Republican, said:

“What you’re doing is you’re creating a deterrent. Across our state, we have had challenges as it relates to shootings.”

Democrats put forth a number of amendments to the bill, but Republicans rejected them all. One would have required parental consent, as well as notification when someone was armed. Another would have put civil liability in the hands of the school district for any death, damage or injury that resulted from one staff member carrying a gun.

As state Representative Justin Jones, a Democrat, commented:

“My Republican colleagues continue to hold our state hostage, hold our state at gunpoint to appeal to their donors in the gun industry. It is morally insane.”

It’s not even certain whether any school district will take advantage of the bill should it become law.

Sean Braisted, who serves as a spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Public Schools, said that the district believes “it is best and safest for only approved active-duty law enforcement to carry weapons on campus.”