Faculty and staff members at public Tennessee colleges will soon be able to carry guns on campus.
Gov. Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee’s campus-carry bill to become law without his signature on Monday.
The law, which takes effect July 1, allows full-time faculty, staff, and other employees with state-issued handgun licenses to be armed on public campuses.
“I am letting SB 2376 become law without my signature,” Haslam said in a statement. “I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year.”
The law requires those carrying guns to notify local law enforcement, a provision Haslam said addressed the concerns raised by college administrators during the legislative process, according to the Associated Press.
Guns will still be banned at school-sponsored events such as football and basketball games, hospitals, or offices where medical or mental health services are provided, and meetings in which disciplinary or tenure issues are being discussed. Guns will also continue to be banned in locations covered by existing laws, such as daycare centres and on-campus elementary schools, according to the Associated Press.
Despite breezing through the Tennessee legislature in April, the law has several high-profile critics, including University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro.
“Our position has been and continues to be that we do not support, as a general premise, any measure that would increase the number of guns on college campuses other than already are allowed by law,” DiPietro said in a statement, according to The Tennessean.
The law does not allow students to carry firearms on campus. But Andy Holt, the Republican who sponsored the bill in the Tennessee House, called that the “important next step.”
“These are adults. We need to stop talking about college students as children. They have the same constitutional rights as others,” Holt said, according to The Tennessean.
Tennesse isn’t the only state working on allowing guns on campus. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is currently weighing a measure, which he must decide on by Tuesday, that would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a weapon on public campuses.
Nine other states have policies allowing guns to be carried on campuses, according to a report published earlier this year by the Education Commission of the States and NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
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