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's not an effort to create an armed battalion on campus but to allow individuals to protect and defend themselves"
Republican Andy Holt
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
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)
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)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 21: Police cordon off the scene in lower Manhattan where two people were shot at the Federal Immigration Court on August 21, 2015 in New York City. One man was killed and another injured in the late afternoon shooting. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 16: Tom Teves, the father of Aurora shooting victim Alex Teves, is iterviewed after a verdict was delivered in the trial of James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on July 16, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes was found guilty on all counts in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 20: About 1,000 people participate in the March for Black Lives in support of the nine people shot to death at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church earlier this week and for others killed by police violence June 20, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspect Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested and charged in the killing of nine people during a prayer meeting in the church, one of the nation's oldest black churches in the South. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A woman protests against domestic violence as she joins other women's rights advocates in an International Women's Day march in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPT 15: Beth Ferrier of Denver wipes away a tear as she listens to testimony from other women who describe being victims of sexual assault. Ferrier, along with Helen Hayes from Morin County, CA, left, and Heidi Thomas, far right, say they were victims of assault by Bill Cosby. They sit at a table with Rep. Rhonda Fields, second from right. Accusers in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby join Rep. Rhonda Fields in a stakeholders meeting inside the Colorado State Capitol in Denver to discuss a bill written by Fields to abolish the Statute of Limitations in sexual assault crimes and cases. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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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."