Tennessee Passes Bill Permitting Teachers to Carry Guns in K-12 Schools

Tennessee Republican state senators on April 9 advanced a bill to permit authorized teachers and school staff to carry firearms on school campuses, despite vocal opposition from the families and teachers from the private Nashville elementary school that was the site of last year’s deadly shooting, CBS News reported.

The bill cleared the Tennessee Senate in a party-line 26-5 vote after chanting and screaming protesters were eventually ordered to leave the galleries. The measure will now go to the Republican-controlled state House for a vote.

Under the proposed bill, teachers or staff who wish to carry a firearm on campus would have to first obtain an enhanced carry permit and receive written authorization from law enforcement, the district superintendent, and the school principal.

All candidates would have to complete 40 hours of training in school policing. To remain authorized, each year they would be required to complete 40 hours of additional training approved by the state’s POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) Commission.

Applicants must also complete a background check and undergo a psychological examination by a psychologist licensed in Tennessee.

Under the bill, parents would not be informed which teachers, staff, or school officials are authorized to carry a firearm, and those authorized would have immunity from financial damages.

State Senator Paul Bailey, a Republican, said the purpose of keeping authorized individuals confidential was to maintain “the element of surprise,” WTVF reported. Bailey said if a potential intruder does not know if the staff member or teacher he may encounter is authorized to carry a firearm, he might change his mind about coming in.

Democrat state Senator London Lamar held up her 8-month-old son and claimed that the bill would put him at risk. Calling the bill “dangerous,” Lamar claimed that teachers were opposed to it and nobody wanted it. She also claimed that if the bill becomes law, the next school shooter would be a teacher.