Tennessee lawmaker pushes for concealed carry in more government buildings

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Tennessee state lawmaker wants to allow people with handgun permits to bring their guns into state or local government buildings even if there is a “no weapons” sign posted. State Representative Jason Zachary says gun free zones are targets for mass shooters and his bill would help keep people in the community safe.

The bill states that handgun carry permit holders could conceal carry in state or local government buildings unless there are metal detectors and armed security guards at the entrances.

Zachary says statistics caused him to look at this piece of proposed legislation.

“Ninety-eight percent of all mass shootings that have occurred since 1950 have occurred in gun free zones,” said Representative Zachary.

House Bill 363 would allow handgun carry permit holders to conceal carry on state or local government property even if there is a no weapons sign posted.

“As we all know criminals are criminals for a reason and that posting that says you can’t carry there, a criminal is going to ignore that, so that simply just makes that building a target,” said Representative Zachary.

The bill also states if there are metal detectors and armed security guards you cannot carry a gun. Zachary says if the bill passes, Farragut Town Hall, for example, would be impacted. The town administrator has no comment at this point.

The Maryville Municipal Building would also be forced to allow conceal carry or get metal detectors and security guards. The Maryville assistant city manager, Roger Campbell, said, “we are aware of House Bill 363 which was filed only in the last week or so. Our staff, city manager and city council have not had the opportunity to discuss the bill or evaluate the costs associated with installing detectors and hiring armed security guards as well as other issues that would arise from this process. We currently prohibit weapons in the building and prefer that not change until such time as state law may dictate.”

Places like the City County Building in Knoxville would not be impacted because they already have guards and metal detectors.

“If there’s a metal detector in place and there are police officers there, then you are not going to be allowed to get anything in,” said Zachary.

“I would support it. My husband would want to know that in any building that he goes in that he could protect himself and more importantly the family when were with him,” said Farragut resident Lynda Ellison.

“Since I’ve gotten older I feel that I feel good about carrying a gun with me now because I can’t defend myself quite as well as I used to,” said resident Richard Segar.

Knoxville city spokesman Eric Vreeland says, “The city opposes this bill, both because it would make the public less safe and it also would be fiscally irresponsible. The cost of installing walk-through metal detectors and hiring armed security guards at the entrances to every public university building, every school, all libraries, Neyland Stadium, Thompson-Boling and other arenas, convention centers, office buildings and recreation centers would be astronomical.”

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