NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After much debate, a bill to that would allow guns on campus has become law without Governor Bill Haslam’s signature.
The bill allows full-time employees of state public colleges or universities to carry a handgun while on property owned, operated, or used by the employing college or university if the employee has a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit. The bill was signed by the speakers on April 22 and send to Governor Haslam to take action on April 25.
On Monday, Haslam said he is allowing the bill to become law without his signature because he was a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus. “I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year,” said Haslam. “Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns.
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“Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations, it provides protection from liability for the institutions, and it requires notification of law enforcement before carrying on campus. I hope that as a state we will monitor the impact of this new law and listen to the feedback of higher education leaders responsible for operationalizing it,” Haslam concluded.
East Tennessee Senator Mike Bell proposed the bill after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. in October. A gunman killed nine people before taking his own life.
Bell said the Legislature has the authority to dictate gun policies at public universities and dismissed concerns from faculty members who worry about their safety if the bill becomes law. Bell said he hopes some professors will follow through on vows to quit and that more conservative instructors will take their place.