NASHVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE (April 20): The bill was deferred in the Senate Judiciary Committee until Jan. 23, 2024.
A bill that would allow staff and faculty in schools to have concealed handguns on school grounds is making its way through the Tennessee legislature.
The bill, SB 1325, was introduced by Senator Paul Bailey (R - Sparta). It requires faculty and staff to have a valid handgun carry permit issued by Tennessee if they choose to carry a gun. It also says they must not be barred from carrying a handgun under any other U.S. law.
They must also get written authorization to carry a handgun from the chief of the appropriate law enforcement agency, while also completing 40 hours of basic training in school policing. That training must be approved by the Peace Officer Standards and Training commission.
Faculty and staff who were previously law enforcement officers can also get written authorization from their Director of Schools, in conjunction with the principal of the school where the person is assigned. They would also need to go through 40 hours of basic training in school policing.
If the Director of Schools says a person can carry a gun on school grounds, they would need to notify the chief of their law enforcement agency and provide the person's basic information.
The written authorization, the transmission of that authorization or the name of any person carrying a gun on school grounds would not be open for public inspection, according to the bill. The bill says the name of faculty or staff who choose to carry a concealed handgun would be considered confidential.
Anyone who chooses to carry a gun on school grounds would not be able to carry it openly. They also could not carry it during school-sponsored events, in meetings about disciplinary matters, in meetings about tenure, in areas providing mental health services, or any location prohibited by state or federal law.
The bill will be discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 28 and will be discussed by the House Education Commission at a date that has yet to be set.