Teacher gun-carry bill 'held' in TN House


The sponsor of a teacher gun-carry bill in public and public charter schools across Tennessee, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-42) of Cookeville, told House members on Monday that he was placing the bill on hold, in the spirit of bipartisanship, after the measure passed the state Senate last week. SABRINA BATES/Jackson Post

Discussion and vote on measure has potential to pass without public notice

By Sabrina Bates

Staff Writer

A legislative proposal allowing teachers to carry handguns in Tennessee schools was placed on hold by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-42) of Cookeville, Monday evening. When Williams addressed Tennessee House members during their session Monday, he said this is a bill he has worked on for three years and given all of the circumstances surrounding the proposal, as well as changes to it in the form of regulation, mental health testing and other amendments, “in the spirit of bipartisanship,” he asked for the measure to “be held on the clerk’s desk.” That action drew some audible protests from people seated in the Chamber’s balconies.

HB 1202 was the 25th item on the House’s agenda Monday evening. Immediately prior to discussion of the bill, Rep. William Lamberth (R-44) of Portland, motioned for the remainder of the agenda items to be rolled until Wednesday’s session of the full state House.

That motion sparked a round of questions by Tennessee House Democrats asking their fellow representatives to take up the measure that night as people had traveled to Nashville for discussion of the bill slated to be heard that evening. Lamberth announced he had spoken to the bill’s sponsor and was told it was going to “be rolled anyway” from Monday night’s agenda. Representatives asked a series of questions relative to procedure after the bill was requested to be held on the clerk’s desk by its sponsor.

Pulling the bill off of the desk for discussion and a vote would require a majority vote by House members.

Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-93) of Memphis said he would explain to those seated in the balcony that the House can take up the measure again without any notice to anyone and be heard the same day if a vote was made to pull it off of the clerk’s desk. As the bill was taken off of the House calendar, no date or time was set to take further action on the measure.

The companion version, Senate Bill 1325, passed the full Senate last week by a vote of 26-5, and 1 member present, but not voting.

Under the measure, a faculty or staff member of a school is allowed to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds as long as it does not violate Federal laws, the staff member obtains an enhanced handgun carry permit and completes 40 hours of POST training annually.

In addition, information pertaining to employees of a school district who do carry a concealed weapon on school grounds is confidential.