Tennessee Bill Would Allow Students to Carry Concealed Guns on Public College Campuses

February 7, 2020 Updated: February 8, 2020
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Two Tennessee lawmakers have introduced a bill in the state House and the Senate that would allow public college students with concealed carry permits to bring their guns to school campuses.

According to the legislation, HB 2102 and SB 2288, registered students at public colleges would be allowed to take a concealed handgun anywhere on property owned by the school, as long as the student has a concealed carry permit and otherwise in compliance with state law.

“This was a constituent request that comes from a movement across the nation to allow gun owners with the appropriate permits to carry their concealed weapons on college campuses for personal safety,” state Rep. Rush Bricken (R), told Nashville NewsChannel 5. “The most effective way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This bill applies to law-abiding citizens who are properly trained and permitted.” Bricken is the sponsor of the House version of the bill.

The effort comes several years after Tennessee passed a bill in 2016 which allows full-time faculty, staff and other employees of public universities to carry guns on school grounds after providing written notice to local law enforcement agencies.

All 50 states allow citizens to carry concealed weapons if they meet specific state requirements. Still, only 10 states have provisions that allow concealed weapons to be carried on public college campuses, namely Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

There are currently 16 states that prohibit concealed carry on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 23 states, individual colleges and universities have the right to decide whether to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on their properties. Utah is the only state that has a law explicitly defining public colleges and universities as public entities. Thus, they don’t have the authority to ban concealed weapons on their properties.

Five other states in 2020 are considering some form of legislation to loosen or remove restrictions on concealed guns on public college campuses. Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, and West Virginia currently have pending bills regarding the issue.

“The arbitrary restriction against CWP [concealed weapons permit] holders carrying on college campuses is likely the most irrational law in the Florida Statutes,” said state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R), the sponsor of Florida’s House Bill 6001, reported the Sun-Sentinel. “I challenge anyone to find a specific and valid factual argument to support it—none exists.”