Tennessee Legislature Approves Guns-in-Trucks Bill

Gun Free School Zone

On Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives approved the much-debated “Guns-in-Trucks” bill which, if signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, will allow handgun owners to carry or keep their weapons in their vehicles – even at previously prohibited locations like schools, universities, and workplace parking lots.  The bill has slowly moved through the legislature over multiple sessions and has been opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

While the timing is somewhat objectionable to some given the events in Newtown at Sandy Hook; House Speaker Beth Harwell said it was time for the matter to be put to rest.

“This caucus has been through a tremendous amount with regards to this piece of legislation, much more than you deserve to have gone through,” she said.

In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Lopez that the Gun Free School Zones Act (1990) – which made carrying a firearm in a “school zone” a crime – was an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause.  While that case was truly more about limiting Commerce Clause power than gun control measures, it has been the catalyst for many states changing and/or creating local gun laws and prohibitions to legislate in the vacated area.

On the local front, the debate is more closely related to a Second Amendment argument for most that have supported the Guns-in-Trucks legislation over the years.  Put simply, they don’t believe the Constitution limited their Right to carry a firearm to a government-stated list of places.  Opponents have sided with many business owners and corporations that have called for stricter laws aimed at preventing workplace and school violence.

For what it’s worth… while the bill now removes the prohibition on carrying a firearm or storing one in a locked vehicle, it does not protect or immune an employee from being fired by an employer for bring a weapon on company property.  Company policies would trump the bill in the sense that the gun owner would have a Right to carry the weapon; just no right to continue being employed by the objecting company.

From The Tennessean:  (Emphasis Mine)

House Bill 118 lets the nearly 400,000 Tennesseans with handgun permits, plus those with permits from many other states, carry their guns in their vehicles at all times — even in workplace and school parking lots, as long as it remains in a locked vehicle.

The bill also includes a provision meant to keep businesses from being sued in the event of a workplace shooting or if the weapon is stolen.

Guns-in-trunks legislation has divided Republicans along pro-business and gun-rights lines, a split that has derailed the proposal repeatedly since it was introduced in 2009. But after the NRA took out the House’s third-ranking Republican, state Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville, in last summer’s primary elections, Harwell and her Senate counterpart, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, pledged to pass a guns-in-trunks bill quickly this year.

Republicans stood by that plan even after the Newtown shooting scrambled the dynamics on gun control elsewhere in the nation, and they pressed ahead Thursday even amid questions about what exactly the bill does.

The measure removes criminal penalties for bringing a gun onto private property, but it is unclear whether businesses could continue to set policies banning firearms.

Wow, Tennessean.  Just wow!

“But after the NRA took out the House’s third-ranking Republican, state Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville, in last summer’s primary elections”

That, my friends, is objective journalism at its finest.  Voters and their views on this and other issues, I’m certain, had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Well done Mr. Sisk.  Well done Tennessean.  Well done.

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