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Senate to vote tonight on 'guns-in-trunks' bill

3:20 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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By Chas Sisk | The Tennessean

The Tennessee Senate could vote as soon as Monday night on a "guns-in-trunks" bill that would let gun owners carry their firearms into workplace parking lots.

State senators are scheduled to vote this evening on Senate Bill 142, a measure backed by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that would make employers let their workers carry guns to work, provided they keep them locked up in their vehicles. Lawmakers have struggled with the issue for the past few legislative sessions, and this year Ramsey, R-Blountville, has called for a quick vote to settle the matter.

Business groups and educational institutions continue to oppose the measure, saying they might be held liable for a workplace shooting and that they should have the right to determine whether guns are allowed on their property. But supporters argue that the right to carry a firearm is meaningless if gun owners cannot take their weapons to and from the place they visit most.

This year's version includes a provision meant to keep businesses from being held legally responsible for shootings or thefts. The bill would apply only to the 371,800 Tennesseans who hold permits to carry handguns, as well as people from outside the state who's permits are recognized here.

The debate takes place against the backdrop of a national conversation about gun laws, prompted by the December shooting of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, CT.

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives are scheduled to begin debate on companion legislation later in the week.

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