Like last year, some Republicans in the state Legislature want to pass a bill that would allow people to store guns in their cars. The House sponsor of the legislation, State Representative Jeremy Faison says he doesn’t have a gun carry permit, but nevertheless he keeps a gun in his car while it is parked in the state Capitol parking lot, “I’m not ashamed of it, I’ll tell anybody that. I’ll tell the highway patrol,” Faison said. “Let’s be honest, there’s not a parking lot in Tennessee today that doesn’t have a gun inside [a] car.”
“Representative Faison is making a point here—that law-abiding citizens don’t get in trouble for keeping guns in their cars,” said WPLN’s Blake Farmer who covers the state Capitol. “He thinks they should have those protections in writing.”
A similar bill failed to pass the Legislature last session. The National Rifle Association supported the bill and the largest companies in the state, including FedEx and Volkswagen, opposed it because they didn’t want firearms in their parking lots. “Ultimately the governor and Republican leaders sided with the employers and the bill never came to a vote,” Farmer explained. “In retribution, the NRA picked a member of the Republican leadership who had a role in this, they funded an opponent to run against her, and got the third ranking Republican in the state house voted out of office.”
This year’s bill has two big changes from last year’s bill: the law applies only to people with handgun carry permits and it gives immunity to property owners if someone is killed or injured because of a gun stored in a car on their site.
There is a possibility the bill will be amended so colleges and universities still have the right to ban handguns in their parking lots. “That issue was a big part of why Governor Bill Haslam objected to guns in trunks last year,” said Farmer. “You’ve got some others who want to make exceptions.”
State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, also a sponsor of the bill, said he wants to have the legislation passed out of committee this week, and the final vote on the bill next week.