New Tennessee law lets college faculty, staff carry guns on campus

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Concealed Handguns On College Campus


On Monday, Tennessee — which, coincidentally, is one of the only states with an official state gun — passed a law that lets college faculty and staff cary guns on campus. According to the Tennessean, rather than signing the bill outright, the state's governor, Bill Haslam, decided to let campuses make their own decisions on security issues.

Although the law doesn't allow even students with permits to carry guns on campus, it does permit some 27,000 full-time faculty and staff members of the state's public colleges to carry a weapon on college property, including in classrooms and lecture halls.

It does include some restrictions: employees who want to come to campus armed would have to conceal their weapon and would need to notify local law enforcement of its presence. They'd also be barred from carrying a weapon into stadiums during school-sponsored events and into meetings "regarding discipline or tenure." What's more, the permit-holder — and not the university — would be liable were the gun to accidentally discharge. And Tennessee's law is more conservative than laws in states like Texas, which do allow students to come to campus armed.

The bill's House sponsor, Republican Andy Holt, said its purpose is to make campuses safer. "It's not an effort to create an armed battalion on campus but to allow individuals to protect and defend themselves," he said.

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New Tennessee law lets college faculty, staff carry guns on campus
People hold up signs as they attend a rally against gun violence, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: A makeshift memorial is shown along the sidewalk in the Lawndale neighborhood where a 22-year-old man was shot and killed over the Labor Day weekend on September 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The murder was one of nine reported in Chicago over the long weekend, with another 46 shot and wounded. Many major U.S. cities, including Chicago, are experiencing a surge in homicides and other violent crimes this year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 10: Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., speaks during a rally on the East Front lawn of the Capitol to demand that Congress take action on gun control legislation, September 10, 2015. Andy Parker, far right, whose daughter Alison, a reporter for WDBJ-TV reporter, was killed on air last month, looks on. The event, titled #Whateverittakes Day of Action, was hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and featured speeches by political leaders and families of gun violence victims. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
A demonstrator helps hold a large "Come and Take It" banner at a rally in support of open carry gun laws at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Signs are viewed on the outside wall of Roanoke Firearms on August 28, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. With mass shootings seemingly on a daily basis, it appears no place in the United States is safe from carnage: not churches, not schools, not even the morning newscast.The shocking on-air murder of a young reporter and a cameraman by a disgruntled former colleague August 26, 2015 has once again renewed calls for stricter gun controls.That is simply not going to happen, experts said, and the trend in recent years has actually gone in the opposite direction.'You can't get rid of them,' Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia -- near the scene of the latest shooting -- told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Big Boyz Gun store is seen August 28, 2015, in Blue Ridge, Virginia. With mass shootings seemingly on a daily basis, it appears no place in the United States is safe from carnage: not churches, not schools, not even the morning newscast.The shocking on-air murder of a young reporter and a cameraman by a disgruntled former colleague August 26, 2015 has once again renewed calls for stricter gun controls.That is simply not going to happen, experts said, and the trend in recent years has actually gone in the opposite direction.'You can't get rid of them,' Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia -- near the scene of the latest shooting -- told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gun rights lobbyists and gun owners rally in support of concealed carry gun legislation in front of the Illinois State Capitol March 5, 2014 in Springfield Ill. Supporters hold their first rally since concealed carry legislation was passed, and within days of the first permits being issued in Illinois, gun rights advocates are expected to be in a celebratory mood, outlining efforts to tweak current concealed carry legislation, and work against any efforts to implement an assault weapons ban. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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C-Jay, right, who was shot in the back, his mother, second from right, Rosa, 7, center and Arla Graham, 10, of the Brooklyn participate in a rally at City Hall park during the third annual Brooklyn bridge march and rally to end gun violence Saturday, May 9, 2015, in New York. Organizers said the proliferation of guns results in an average of more than 80 deaths a day across the country. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Conley Hennigan wears a holstered banana with "glock" written on it, during a rally in support of open carry gun laws at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this March 4, 2013 file photo, opponents of proposed gun control bills being considered by the Colorado Legislature hold signs to those passing in cars, in front of the State Capitol, in Denver. When a gunman opened fire inside a packed movie theater in July of 2012, killing 12, it helped revive the national debate over gun control. But, as the trial of theater shooter James Holmes is scheduled to begin Monday, April 27, 2015, Colorado’s gun debate has quieted down. “It’s in a sort of gridlock,” said nonpartisan Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
People calling for gun control demonstrate on a street a few blocks away from the site of the National Rifle Association convention Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter was killed in the 2012 theater shootings in Aurora Colo., and Annette Holt, right, who lost her son Blair to gun violence, speak in support of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, as he is endorsed by the Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee and the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Chicago. The groups were joined by families of gun violence as Quinn continues to battle for votes in a tight race against Republican opponent Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Gun-rights activists celebrate Patriots' Day at the steps of the Utah capital in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 19, 2014. The rally focused on supporting the Second Amendment right to own firearms. About a dozen of the attendees carried long rifles and assault weapons, while a few others had holstered pistols. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Sharon Mausey sells hats and shirts supporting concealed carry gun legislation to gun rights lobbyists and gun owners at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in Springfield Ill. Participants will march through Springfield to the state Capitol's for a rally before lobbying various representatives. It's the first rally since concealed carry legislation was passed, and within days of the first permits being issued in Illinois. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, responsible for Boston Marathon bombing, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015.

(AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File)

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But opponents of the law say that, not only will it fail to make campus any safer, it could complicate how police handle active shooter situations. "If there were an incident or shooting on campus, they would not be able to tell who has a gun legally and who is committing a crime," Monica Greppin-Watts, the communications director for the Tennessee Board of Regents, told the Tennessean in March, adding that the Tennessee Association of Police Chiefs agreed the law would decrease campus safety.

They also say that in passing the law, Tennessee lawmakers ignored input from campus police chiefs. "This will require them to scrap their FBI training protocol when it comes to responding to an active shooter situation," said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director of Safe Tennessee Project. "But, in our state, the gun lobby is more influential than law enforcement."


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