What’s been coined the “guns-on-campus” bill will become law in Tennessee — but without the Signature of Gov. Bill Haslam.
That’s correct, the governor opted not to sign the bill that would allow staff and faculty at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities to carry concealed on campus, provided they have a valid carry permit and have notified campus security.
“I am letting SB 2376 become law without my signature,” said Gov. Haslam, as the Tennessean reported. “I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year. Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns.”
“Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations, it provides protection from liability for the institutions, and it requires notification of law enforcement before carrying on campus,” he continued. “I hope that as a state we will monitor the impact of this new law and listen to the feedback of higher education leaders responsible for operationalizing it.”
The bill will not allow students to carry on campus, even if they have concealed carry permits.
SB 2376 was vehemently opposed by Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, the gun-control organization funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Governor Haslam has failed college communities across Tennessee by allowing guns on campus to become law without putting his name on the bill, despite the fact that his legitimate concerns about the bill, which were echoed by law enforcement, were not addressed,” said Jodi Polaha, associate professor at East Tennessee State University and Volunteer with the Tennessee Chapter of Moms Demand Action, in a statement.
“It’s disappointing to see our governor, who just weeks ago signed common sense gun safety legislation, choose to stand idly by while a dangerous bill that is opposed by law enforcement and campus stakeholders passes into law,” continued Polaha. “Tennessee’s college communities don’t want guns on campus and it shouldn’t be forced on us. This legislation will hurt the reputation of Tennessee’s colleges and universities, and threaten to diminish our academic communities.”
While the governor and gun-control activists had reservations about the bill, it’s clear that, by and large, the Legislature did not. SB 2376 had widespread support in both chambers, clearing the state Senate 28-5 on April 19 and the House 69-24 on April 20. It will take effect July 1, 2016.