By: José Niño
After the Covenant School mass shooting that saw a deranged female kill six people in a Nashville neighborhood, legislation allowing teachers to carry firearms on school grounds is expected to be voted on April 13, 2023.
In the last week, this legislation — HB1202 — moved through the Education Administration committee, putting it one step closer to being put forward for a full House vote. This bill was introduced by State Representative Ryan Williams and would grant the faculty or staff members the ability to carry concealed handguns on school premises provided that they meet certain conditions. The bill was passed in the Education Administration committee with a 12-6-1 vote, where three Republicans — Charlie Baum, John Gillespie, and Mark White — joined all Democrats to vote against the bill.
Per the bill’s text, school employees can carry if they possess a valid handgun carry permit, are authorized by their local law enforcement agency, and undergo 40 hours of “basic training in school policing” upon receiving the authorization. They must also complete a minimum of 40 hours of Peace Officer Standards & Training Commission (P.O.S.T.) to continue carrying the firearm on school premises.
In addition, under the legislation, all costs connected to weapons, training, and ammunition must be assumed by the individual wanting to carry, not the school or school district.
According to WKRN, any employee who opts to carry would be banned from carrying the firearm openly or “in any other manner in which the handgun is visible to ordinary observation.” Employees would also be prohibited from carrying their handguns at gyms, stadiums, or auditoriums when school-sponsored events are being held, in disciplinary meetings, tenure issue meetings, hospitals, clinics, or facilities where medical or mental health services are the main services provided or any venue where state or federal law and posting provisions in state law bans individuals from carrying firearms on that property.
On paper, such legislation should easily pass the State House and the State Senate due to Republican domination in both chambers, 75-24 and 27-6, respectively. Since passing Constitutional Carry in 2021, Tennessee has emerged as one of the most pro-gun states in the nation. According to Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun owners rankings, Tennessee finds itself in a respectable 12th place.
Tennessee legislators are on the mark by pursuing such measures. As gun-free zones, schools are soft targets for mass murderers who desire racking up a nasty kill count. A more sensible solution to this problem is allowing schools to determine their own security policies, which may span from arming teachers to bringing in private security to protect students and staff.
No matter how one slices it, the current gun-free zone policies that DC has implemented have resoundingly failed. A new policy alternative is needed.