Gun rights advocates are asking for a bill that would bar businesses from firing employees who keep handguns in their cars, but Republican leaders say they are reluctant to reopen the debate.
The Tennessee Firearms Association has called on lawmakers to support a bill meant to clarify a law passed a year ago that lifted criminal penalties on workers who bring handguns to work if they have a carry permit. The law requires them to keep their guns locked up in their cars and out of sight.
The so-called "guns-in-trunks" law was supposed to settle a debate that had pit business groups against Second Amendment activists, but a opinion issued in May by the state's attorney general upset that equilibrium by suggesting that workers still could be fired for bringing guns to work under Tennessee's at-will employment laws.
The TFA says the original measure was "poorly written," but Republican leaders, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, say they will oppose attempts to reopen the question.
Citing an analysis written by legislative staffers, Ramsey said last week that Tennessee's employment law creates a "public policy exception" that protects workers from being punished for carrying handguns in their vehicles. Ramsey also said employment lawyers are advising their business clients not to fire workers for having guns in their cars.
So far, lawmakers have shown little interest in taking up the question.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, has filed a pair of measures that clarify other aspects of the guns-in-trunks law. House Bill 1404 would protect gun owners if someone happens to see them putting away their guns, while House Bill 1405 says gun owners could leave their weapons in any vehicle they happen to be driving, not just one that they own personally.
McCormick did not rule out the possibility of further amendments, but he did not think they'd be necessary.
"These may not be perfect. Maybe they need to be modified," he said. "But I don't think so."