HomeNewsTeacher gun-carry bill passed by Tennessee Senate

Teacher gun-carry bill passed by Tennessee Senate

By Sabrina Bates

Staff Writer

A teacher gun-carry bill filed last year by the 113th Tennessee General Assembly was revived this week when members of the Senate passed the measure Tuesday afternoon.

Under the legislation, teachers with concealed-carry gun permits will be allowed to carry their weapon on school grounds and at school-related functions.

While the measure was introduced Jan. 31, 2023, and quickly made its way through committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee opted to bump further action on the proposal until earlier this year. That action came after a shooter killed six people – three students and three adults – on the campus of The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, 2023.

In April, members of the Tennessee House opted to hold the bill until further action was taken on it by the Senate this year.

Senate Bill 1325 was introduced by Tennessee Sen. Paul Bailey (R-15) of Sparta. The House version, HB 1202, was sponsored by Tennessee Rep. Ryan Williams (R-42) of Cookeville. 

Under the measure, a faculty or staff member of a school is allowed to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds as long as it does not violate Federal laws, the staff member obtains an enhanced handgun carry permit and completes 40 hours of POST training annually.

In addition, information pertaining to employees of a school district who have a concealed-carry permit remains confidential.

Tennessee joins 33 other states that allow teachers to carry guns on public school grounds in the United States, according to a report by the New York Times. This state already made it permissive for educators and faculty members at private schools to conceal carry.

South Dakota became the first state to pass a similar law in 2013 after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

On April 17, 2023, members of the Tennessee House adopted the following amendment to the legislation, which makes the following revisions to the requirements a person employed by an LEA as a faculty or staff member at a school within the LEA must meet in order to carry a firearm on school grounds:

(1) Clarifies that a person must not be prohibited from purchasing, possessing, and carrying a handgun under the laws of Tennessee or federal law as determined by a background check;

(2) Adds that the faculty or staff member is required to submit two full sets of classifiable fingerprints to the law enforcement agency from which the faculty or staff member is seeking authorization under this bill. This amendment also provides that the agency must then submit the fingerprints to the TBI and upon receipt, the TBI must: check the person’s eligibility to purchase, possess, or carry a handgun; conduct a criminal history record check; and requires that the FBI conduct a federal criminal history record check;

(3) Requires that a faculty or staff member undergo a psychological examination conducted by a Tennessee licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, to determine whether the person is free from any impairment that under the examiner’s professional judgment would affect such person’s ability to safely possess and carry a concealed handgun on the grounds of a school;

(4) Extends immunity from claims for monetary damages that arise solely from, or that are related to, a faculty or staff member’s use of, or failure to use, a handgun so long as the faculty or staff member is authorized to carry the handgun, to law the enforcement agency;

(5) Specifies that authorization to carry firearms in a school by faculty or staff members, or persons assigned to a school under a MOU between local law enforcement and the LEA, does not apply to schools within the department of children’s services’ LEA or to schools within the department of correction’s LEA; and

(6) Defines “appropriate law enforcement agency” (for purposes of identifying a law enforcement agency that may enter into an MOU with the LEA) to mean to the law enforcement agency that employs a school resource officer that is assigned to the school or if such officer is not assigned to the school, the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the school.


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