Governor Signs Bill Allowing Armed Teachers

Tennessee's Bill Lee OKed controversial legislation, which goes into effect immediately
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2024 7:00 AM CDT
Tennessee Could Soon Have Armed Teachers
The Tennessee Capitol is seen, Jan. 8, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
UPDATE Apr 27, 2024 7:00 AM CDT

As expected, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed off on a new law permitting teachers and staff to carry handguns on campus in public schools. "What's important is that we give districts tools and the option to use a tool that will keep their children safe," Lee told reporters on Friday, per the AP. The legislation mandates that a teacher who wanted to carry would have to get the OK from their principal, school district, and a law enforcement agency, as well as have the proper permit, pass a background check, and go through 40 hours of handgun training. Parents and most other school personnel won't be informed if a teacher is carrying. The Tennessean notes there are also no safe-storage rules included in the new law, which House Dems in the state wanted to codify in the bill; their GOP colleagues voted that down. It's not clear which, if any, schools will choose to tap into the new law.

Apr 24, 2024 2:30 AM CDT

As protesters chanted "Blood on your hands," Tennessee's state House on Tuesday passed a bill that will allow handguns to be carried by some teachers and staff on school campuses. The legislation was previously passed by the state Senate, and the Tennessean reports it's "all but guaranteed to to become law within weeks," as Gov. Bill Lee, who has never vetoed a bill, can sign it or just let it become law without his signature. Every House Democrat, as well as four Republicans, opposed the bill, CBS News reports. Students and gun-reform advocates were among those who pleaded with Republicans not to pass the bill, which they argue will create dangerous school environments.

The bill would not require campuses to allow firearms on campus, but it would give principals the ability to sign off on staff members who are allowed to carry them. The school district's director of schools, as well as local law enforcement, will also be required to sign off, and any staff member who wants to carry a gun will need to possess a carry permit, undergo 40 hours of training, and pass criminal and mental health background checks. However, they will not be required to inform parents, or most of their colleagues, that they are carrying. Some parents of survivors of last year's school shooting at the state's Covenant School were among those opposing the bill. (More Tennessee stories.)

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