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Tennessee enacts law that lets teachers carry concealed weapons at school

April 25, 2024
Teaches who wish to carry a weapon must undergo training and get approval from district administration.

Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a bill that would allow school staff to carry concealed handguns on school grounds.

The Tenneseean reports that under the legislation, faculty and staff members who wish to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds must

  • Maintain a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit
  • Undergo a background check and submit two sets of fingerprints to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Receive psychological or psychiatric certification from a licensed health care provider
  • Complete 40 hours of basic training in school policing
  • Get a sign-off from the school district's director of schools, the school principal, and the chief of the "appropriate" law enforcement agency

Gov. Bill Lee has signed the bill, and it took effect immediately.

The state's second-largest district, Metro Nashville Public Schools, said that despite the new law, it would not allow teachers or staff members to carry concealed handguns on its campuses.

"We have a strong relationship with the Metro Nashville Police Department and agree that it is safest for only approved active-duty law enforcement officers to carry weapons on campus," district spokesperson Sean Braisted said. "This has been our consistent practice...and we have no intention of changing it."

The bill passed despite protests and fiery opposition from Democrats, students, teachers, parents and bipartisan gun reform advocates. 

NBC News reports that a proponent of the bill, Republican state Rep. Ryan Williams, asserted that the bill would bolster school safety.

"I believe that this is a method by which we can do that, because what you're doing is you're creating a deterrent," he said.

Democratic state Rep. Bo Mitchell opposed the measure, referring to last year's Covenant School shooting in Nashville when three children and three adults were killed.

"This is what we’re going to do?" Mitchell said. "This is our reaction to teachers and children being murdered in a school, our reaction is gonna throw more guns at it. What’s wrong with us?"

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