ASSOCIATED PRESS — A bill allowing staff and faculty at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities to be armed on campus became law on Monday without Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.
Haslam said in a statement that he disagreed with the bill for not allowing campus leaders “to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus.”
But the governor acknowledged that the final version of the measure had addressed concerns raised by college administrators, with provisions protecting colleges from liability and a requirement to notify law enforcement about who is armed on campus.
Currently at APSU, there are at least 360 full-time faculty members, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents, who would be able to carry handguns with this new law.
The bill, HB 1736 authored by Sen. Mike Bell from Riceville, Tennessee, and Sen. Andy Holt from Dresden, Tennessee, would allow “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,” according to the Tennessee Capitol website.
The Tennessee law limiting campus carry to faculty and staff with state-issued handgun carry permits is more limited than a bill awaiting a decision by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. That measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with the proper permit.
The Tennessee law will keep gun bans in place for stadiums or gymnasiums while school-sponsored events are in progress; meetings where disciplinary or tenure issues are being discussed; hospitals or offices where medical or mental health services are provided; and any location prohibited by another law, such as at day care centers or elementary schools located on campus.
The National Rifle Association had argued against allowing individual institutions to opt out of the guns-on-campus bill.