Bill Passed: Tennessee Teachers Eligible to Carry Weapons

( – On April 20, President Joe Biden released a statement acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the devastating Columbine High School Shooting. Since then, the president said there have been more than 400 school shootings and over 370,000 students have been traumatized as a result — or killed. He called for an end to the violence. Lawmakers in Tennessee believe they have a solution, but the move sparked anger among constituents.

What Happened?

On April 23, Tennessee House Republicans passed a bill with a vote of 68 to 28 that would not restrict guns in the state but expand access instead. The measure would allow some school teachers and staff members to carry concealed weapons on school grounds. The bill, if signed by Governor Bill Lee (R-TN), would prevent parents and other teachers from knowing who is armed. Tennesseans sat in the gallery to witness the bill’s passage, erupting into anger after lawmakers voted in favor of the measure. They started chanting, “Blood on your hands,” before House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) had them removed from the galleries.

State lawmakers against the gun law expansion included all Democrats and four Republicans, but it wasn’t enough to stop the bill. The Tennessee Senate previously passed the legislation, so the bill will easily go to the governor’s desk where Lee will likely sign it into law. Representative Ryan Williams, the TN House Republican who brought the measure, said his aim was to create a “deterrent” in schools. He believes the law will help prevent school shootings since nobody but the school administrators and police will know who is armed in the school.

Democrats presented amendments to the bill that would require consent from the parents, notification, and additional civil liabilities for the school — all were rejected.

Details and Opposition

The bill would require teachers wanting to conceal carry to gain written permission from the principal and local police. They would also need to pass a background check and complete handgun training. Guns would be prohibited at school events.

State Representative Justin Jones (D) accused Republicans in the state House of holding Tennessee “hostage,” before correcting himself stating they were actually holding it “at gunpoint to appeal to their donors in the gun industry.” Jones said the issue wasn’t about weapons, but morals.

State Representative Charlie Baum (R) said having teachers armed in schools might complicate the process of “neutralizing an active shooter.” Others question whether the bill requires enough training and point out that teachers are “not law enforcement.”

Copyright 2024,