KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The city of Knoxville now permits guns on buses, after a Tennessee state law took effect on July 1.
The law, T.C.A. 39-17-1351, allows those with carry permits to bring handguns in public facilities that do not have metal detectors, security guards, and other protective measures in place. This includes the KAT bus station in downtown Knoxville. Signage has recently been posted throughout the building, reading “Weapons are prohibited except as permitted in accordance with T.C.A. 39-17-1351.”
The changes come with opposition.
“If they carry guns, I don’t feel comfortable with that,” Janet Galyon said.
Kenneth Kelley agrees.
“You don’t need to carry a gun on the bus,” Kelley said.
Others support the law.
“I feel like it should be their right,” Alyssa Thomas said. “If they feel like they need to be protected and they’re able to access it, they’re obviously safe enough to contain it, and they have to pass a background and everything, so you have to be pretty safe to carry your gun around.”
Some said that the new law makes them feel less safe and that a gun is the wrong thing to have when conflict arises.
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“That’s not a good policy. It’s not safe for us,” Glen Shown said. “If you have a permit, leave your weapon at home. It doesn’t change your permit, but keep people on these bus lines safe, because you never know what will spark on one. In just the heat of a moment, it could change everything.”
Those with handgun carry permits disagree and argue it is within their right to bring a gun where the law permits.
“It’s constitutional [and] within the law,” Wayne Harwell said. “It’s within our training and our safety guidelines.”
Some even said the new measure makes them feel more safe on public transit.
“If a situation arose and someone couldn’t handle it, then they would at least have someone who could stand up if they had a gun,” Thomas said.
Still, feedback on the new gun bill remains mixed, with some people left wondering how the law will be monitored and who will step in when things go wrong.
“I don’t want to be on a bus if there are guns on it,” Shown said. “Who’s going to protect you if someone loses control? The police aren’t going to be on that bus.”