Allowing guns in parking lots is a controversial topic that Tennessee
lawmakers are debating. Senate Bill 142 (SB142) has made its way pass the state
Senate and is now heading to the House.
The Safe Commute Act as written would "allow a person with
a valid handgun carry permit to transport and store a firearm or ammunition in
the permit holder's privately-owned motor vehicle in public or private parking
area under certain condition".
The Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) is opposed to the bill because the
organization argues the measure doesn't go far enough to protect employees.
TFA member Liston Matthews said, "This bill as written would allow
that, but yet if an employer decides they want to fire someone for having it in
the car then what good has the bill done."
While lawmakers are feeling pressure to change the current proposal,
Knoxville Democrat Gloria Johnson said the bill goes far enough.
"I think that the business community in our state doesn't want government
dictating what they can and can't do on private property. People don't want
these guns on their private property, especially colleges. Colleges are opposed
to this and they don't want more guns on campuses," Representative Johnson
said in a phone interview.
"It doesn't say anything about you can take your firearm into the place
of employment. It's not trying to allow for that. All it's saying is you can
take it into your car and keep it in your car locked up and then you have it
with you on the commute. You called me to make an appointment. The criminal
does not call ahead. They just meet you wherever it suits them the best," said
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey is named as one of the sponsors of SB142. One of his
staff members told WBIR it's hard for the proposed bill to protect employees
because Tennessee is an at-will state, meaning an employer can fire an employee
with or without cause.