Tennessee bill to Conceal Carry at Businesses Rejected in Senate Committee


The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly voted against a contentious proposal on Tuesday that sought to permit concealed carry permit holders to carry guns into businesses without the property owners’ consent.

Senate Bill 2180, championed by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, aimed to exempt concealed carry or enhanced-handgun carry permit holders from Tennessee’s existing criminal code, which deems “possessing a firearm in a concealed manner” illegal if the property owner has posted signage prohibiting weapons.

However, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opposed the bill, fearing it would grant anyone with a valid handgun permit the ability to carry a gun inside state buildings, including sensitive locations such as jails, prisons, or Department of Children’s Services facilities.

Under the proposed bill, business and property owners would retain the right to request that gun holders remove firearms from the premises, with law enforcement authorized to enforce trespassing charges. (Credits: Tennessean)

Hensley contended that businesses could still opt for security measures like hiring security personnel or implementing metal detectors to prohibit firearms, but individuals carrying guns could no longer be penalized under the current signage law.

Elizabeth Stroeker, the Department of Safety’s legislative affairs director, expressed concerns that the legislation could create challenges for state employees or business owners by placing them in situations where they have to approach armed individuals to enforce property rules.

Sen. Brent Taylor, R-Memphis, suggested that businesses assuming liability by prohibiting guns were akin to restricting inhalers, implying that businesses could be liable for not allowing firearms if a customer faced a medical emergency or became a victim of violence.

Supporters of the bill argued that it would offer broader protection of gun rights. (Credits: Tennessean)

Senator Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, questioned whether it was safer for individuals to leave their guns in their cars, where they could potentially be stolen, rather than carrying them for personal protection.

Earlier this month, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce criticized the legislation in an “action alert” email to its members, expressing concerns about the potential infringement on property rights and the safety implications of confronting armed individuals on their premises.

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