Ramsey outlines compromise on guns in workplace bill

1:57 PM, Dec 14, 2012   |    comments
TN Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey
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By Chas Sisk | The Tennessean

Gun owners could be asked to place their carry permits on file with their bosses in exchange for having the right to keep their weapons in their vehicles while at work under a bill in the works in the state legislature.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said his office is working on a measure that would require employers to allow firearms in their parking lots. But businesses that provide secured parking for their employees would be able to demand that their workers show them they have a valid permit to carry a handgun and could keep that registration on file.

The legislation is meant to serve as a compromise between gun rights and business groups, who have sparred for years over guns-in-trunks legislation.

"If you have a gun carry permit and proven you're responsible, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to keep your firearm locked in your vehicle wherever you go," Ramsey told reporters Thursday. "Let's be honest. It's going on now. This is to make those people legal."

Ramsey has said he will put forward a guns-in-trunks bill soon after the legislature reconvenes in January in hopes of laying the issue to rest quickly.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have lobbied heavily for a guns-in-trunks bill. They argue that the right to carry a handgun is neutered if gun owners cannot take their weapons to work, one of the places they visit most often.

But businesses say forcing them to allow guns on their property violates their rights. They point to workplace shootings as evidence that guns present a safety risk.

Ramsey's proposal that workers should have to place their permits on file would apply only to employers who offer secured parking. Businesses that have open parking lots or parking that is shared with the public would not be able to demand permits.

Ramsey said his proposal also makes no distinctions for educational institutions, which have been among the strongest opponents of guns-in-trunks legislation. Gov. Bill Haslam has said he would oppose any bill that does not allow colleges and universities to ban firearms on their campuses.

"What's campuses got to do with it?" Ramsey said. "We're talking about your automobile. We're not talking about where you are. We're talking about your car."

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