Haslam signs guns-in-lots bill

Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:27pm

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the controversial guns-in-trunks bill into law Thursday, despite expressing initial concern over allowing guns on college campuses.

The legislation easily won approval in the legislature last month after becoming an election issue in the 2012 Republican primary.

“Its purpose is simple: to ensure that the right to bear arms is not effectively nullified by policies that force people to leave their firearms at home when they go to work or carry on their daily routines,” read a letter from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the bill’s sponsor, and four other state Senators.

Lawmakers began working on the legislation shortly after the school shooting in Connecticut, which did not appear to affect movement on the bill.

Early on, Haslam had concerns about the measure which sought a compromise over legislation last year that pinned Republicans between two key constituents: business owners and gun rights advocates. While he supported the new bill, he said he was concerned about allowing guns on college campuses. He did not issue a statement about his approval of the bill.

The new law, which kicks in July 1, legalizes the practice of handgun carry permit holders storing weapons in a locked vehicle in a parking lot, including schools and places of employment. Property owners can still exercise policies banning the presence of guns in their parking lots.

One point of confusion about the law when lawmakers approved the measure was whether employers could fire workers who violate policies banning weapons on the property given that Tennessee is a right-to-work state.

“Employers who terminate employees just for exercising this right may violate the state’s clear public policy that handgun carry permit holders are allowed to transport and store firearms or ammunition under the described circumstances,” read the letter clarifying the intent of the law.

The letter — which the high-ranking Senate GOP legislators added to the chamber’s journal Thursday to clarify the intent of the law — also highlights that business owners are given immunity in civil actions for any damages, injuries or deaths that happen as a result of someone using the weapon they had locked up in a vehicle on their property.

When the GOP-led legislature sidelined the issue last year, gun rights advocates like the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association took aim at, and succeeded at unseating one of the body’s high-profile Republicans in the 2012 August primary election.

The measure passed the Senate 28-5. In the House of Representatives, the measure was approved 72-22, although Democrats failed to convince the GOP-controlled body to add in amendments and exemptions for places like schools, hospitals, mental health facilities and correctional facilities.

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18 Comments on this post:

By: gdiafante on 3/15/13 at 11:18

F'ing stupid. The inmates are truly running the asylum.

By: pswindle on 3/15/13 at 11:38

Of course he did, he is a yes man to Ramsey and the gun lobby. He is a weak man with a weak agenda. He will sign anything that he is told to sign. Same, Shame on him.

By: Jughead on 3/15/13 at 1:48

Bravo! And, I am equally as giddy that the mentally ill anti-gun crowd is displeased. I see their knickers wadding up right now, and they need to get some counseling and have an Occupy movement again.

By: Jughead on 3/15/13 at 1:50

Good news for liberals: you are free to move where other mentally ill folks who agree with you live. NYC, DC and California are waiting....go,go,go!

By: Libertine on 3/15/13 at 3:16

It's good to see our legislators affirm our civil rights.

By: ancienthighway on 3/15/13 at 5:08

I'm sure Halsam carefully considered his options before signing this bill.
1. Sign it.
2. Don't sign it and have the gun lobby money support your replacement.
It's kind of like having a gun pointed at your head, but without guns and without heads. Signature may have been under duress.
Or maybe pro-business Halsam was really behind it 100%. Doesn't really matter now.

By: WickedTribe on 3/15/13 at 7:23

I'm so glad that i can carry my gun with me in my car on the way to and from work. I always hated not being armed when I have those road rage incidences where I would like to shoot the other driver. Yay!

By: pswindle on 3/16/13 at 12:41

Where are his principles? He is as weak a person as he is a governor. He acts as if he really is not for something, but as soon as it is passes, he can't wait to sign it. He is killing the middle class in TN. Without unions, the pay scale has rally had a downturn. Why do you think that Nissan does not want a union? They would have to pay a living wage like they do in Spring Hill. There is a union there. He is now cutting back on worker's com.and injury compensation. The GOP has waited for years to get complete control so the people of TN could go back to begging for work and money. But the GOP will vote them in, even if it hurts their lifestyle, and they end up with nothing.

By: Libertine on 3/17/13 at 10:26

The decision of the employees at Nissan is completely up to the employees, as it should be. If the workers at Nissan decide that $25 an hour with good heath and retirement benefits are fair for operating a screwdriver as they have done in the past, then fine. If Nissan employee would rather have the UAW drive their employer into bankruptcy like the UAW did at Springhill, then fine. I just hope that it result in a $20 billion net loss to taxpayers like the GM bailout did.

By: Loner on 3/18/13 at 6:49

Allowing employees to keep a loaded weapon in their vehicle, in the parking lot, should eliminate the life-saving, "cooling off period" that occurs immediately after an employee is fired.

Now, instead of going home to get the guns and ammo and returning to the workplace to mete out revenge, disgruntled gunners can quickly act upon their rage....their gun will be only a few minutes away, not several minutes, or hours away. Workplace revenge shootings should soon show a statistical uptick in the Coonskin Cap state.

Guns in trunks is a fear-driven asinine law...innocent people will die because of this law; when that happens, the victims families should sue the state of Tennessee, for allowing such a stupid policy to become law.

By: Rocket99 on 3/18/13 at 7:15

The party of lesser governmenrt and local rule strikes again.

Can anyone say hypocrite?

By: Jughead on 3/18/13 at 7:35

You anti-gun tards always scream like pathetic teenagers when you do not get your way. There is ZERO evidence supporting your hysterical whining that this will result in more shootings.

Yet, you libs still whine.

By: grid on 3/18/13 at 9:17

As I understand the law, property owners have ultimate say in this. That is, if the property owner says "no guns", then one can't keep his/her gun in their car. Same as business owners; if the "no guns" sign is posted, then you can't carry in that business.

By: Redbarron06 on 3/18/13 at 11:36

All this law does is remove the criminal charge if a person is caught on the property with a firearm in the car. Under the current law, even if you are driving through the property and are caught with a firearm you can not just loose your permit but be fined and go to jail. Under the new law the property owner can still post the property, can still fire you if they catch you with a gun on the property they just cant try to send you to jail.

Under the law the car must be locked and the firearm out of sight, so how will a property owner know if you have a firearm unless they search your car and they have no right to do that.

By: govskeptic on 3/19/13 at 6:40

The Law doesn't do half of what Ron Ramsey claims. An employer can still post
a no firearms warning, and can fire at will anyone who violates that law without
repercussions. Even those that opposed the law previously became silent when
this final bill went through.

By: yucchhii on 3/19/13 at 1:12

Just another step toward taking you rights away sooo slowly you won't even know it till their GONE! HELLO, PEOPLE, WAKE THE F#@K UP!!

By: yucchhii on 3/19/13 at 1:16

Oh by the way, they need to take all CARS and motorized vehicles away from people since they kill people too!!....and so do knives, pens, pencils, stones, bricks, desks, chairs, computer cpu's, tables, refrigertors, telephones, ...shall I go on?

By: CoyoteCrawford on 3/19/13 at 8:27

This is going to backfire on Haslam and the Republicans when we have the next big shooting in Tennessee. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. This is too much legislation from big government. All amendments have limitations. The second amendment is no different.