Groundwork is quietly being laid by the National Rifle Association in an attempt to pass some of the broadest gun possession legislation in the state’s history.
SB3002 (Faulk, R-Church Hill) would rewrite state law and allow permit holders to store firearms in their personal vehicles at their places of employment. Tennessee’s business advocates, individual employers, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry are adamantly opposed to the bill on the grounds that it violates the private property rights of business owners and employers that choose to restrict firearms from their premises.
Currently, the bill includes all places of employment – public and private – including hospitals, K-12 schools, colleges, and government offices and buildings. SB3002 is co-sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville). The House companion bill, HB3560, is sponsored by Representative Eddie Bass (D-Pleasant Hill). Bass has repeatedly stated that he will not move the House bill until the measure passes in the Senate.
On Tuesday, SB3002 was before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Faulk briefly spoke to the bill and asked that a final vote be scheduled for March 6. Faulk stated that he would like proponents of the bill to be allowed to speak before the Committee on February 21 and opponents to speak before the Committee on February 28.
Another bill by Faulk and Bass (SB2992/HB3559) is of equal concern to the business community and public employers. This measure also is being pushed by the National Rifle Association and prevents employers from asking employment applicants or employees whether they own, possess, or transport firearms or ammunition. The Senate bill was before the Senate Commerce Committee. Faulk asked for the same discussion timeline on the measure as he did for SB3002 in the Judiciary Committee.
The University of Tennessee, Tennessee Board of Regents, and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) all are in opposition to the two proposals.