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New law allows some county commissioners to bring guns to meetings

A new Tennessee state law goes into effect July that allows some county commissioners to bring their handguns into buildings during meetings.

A new Tennessee state law will go into effect at the beginning of July that will allow county commissioners to bring their handguns into buildings where meetings are held.

Anderson County Commissioner Steven Mead is one commissioner saying he looks forward to July 1.

"I won't have to leave my gun out where it can be stolen in my car," he said.

In fact, Mead helped write the new legislation. He began lobbying the legislature after an existing law was changed. It resulted in a ban on any guns in buildings with active courthouses.

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The new law, HB1939, allows commissioners, who have the appropriate handgun license, to carry their weapons into any building in which their commission meets.

"I think this is a move in the right direction, but I was lobbying for something that would include maybe all elected officials," Mead said.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said he understands where commissioners are coming from.

"Elected officials are in the spotlight and frankly it’s different times now," he said. There's "a lot of violence in the world."

Burchett declined to say whether he carried a weapon himself, but said he takes his security seriously.

"I had a lot more at stake than when it was Tim Burchett single. Now it's Tim Burchett family man so it's a different story."

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There are some exceptions to the new law. It exempts commissioners from "metropolitan areas," including Nashville. It also doesn't allow commissioners to carry firearms into rooms where judicial proceedings are taking place, an exception Mead supported.

"I know a lot of people that are very pro-gun but I don't know anybody that is opposed to not taking guns into court," he said.