Tennessee Passes Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Concealed Handguns

In a move that has reignited the debate over arming educators, state legislators in Tennessee approved a bill on Tuesday allowing teachers and school staff to carry concealed handguns on school grounds. The bill, signed into law by Republican Governor Bill Lee on Friday, outlines specific conditions for faculty or staff members to carry concealed firearms.

According to the bill’s summary, educators must meet several requirements, including obtaining an enhanced carry permit, receiving written authorization from school authorities and law enforcement, completing extensive training in school policing, undergoing background checks, and undergoing psychological evaluations conducted by licensed healthcare providers.

The passing of the bill was met with opposition, as individuals in the room were heard chanting, “Blood on your hands.” Gun reform activists and opponents of the legislation have raised concerns about the safety and efficacy of arming teachers, particularly in light of ongoing mass shootings across the United States.

The bill comes at a time when gun violence remains a significant concern, with data from the Gun Violence Archive showing that gun violence is the leading cause of death among children in the United States. The bill’s approval has sparked renewed discussions on gun reform and school safety measures.

Critics of the legislation argue that it could potentially put students at risk and undermine efforts to create safe learning environments. Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari criticized the bill, highlighting concerns about parents not being informed if their child’s teacher is armed.

However, Republican state Sen. Paul Bailey, a co-sponsor of the bill, emphasized that the legislation is permissive and does not mandate teachers to carry firearms. He clarified that the bill merely provides faculty or staff members with the option to carry concealed handguns.

Despite the passage of the bill, there are restrictions on where firearms can be carried on school premises. Handguns cannot be openly carried or carried in a manner visible to ordinary observation. Additionally, certain areas such as stadiums, gymnasiums, or auditoriums during school-sponsored events are designated as firearm-free zones.

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