Gun Legislation Update: Action Expected Week of April 23rd

The two significant pieces of gun legislation, SB 2992/HB 3559 and SB 3002/HB 3560, have made their way through the standing committee process and are now in a holding pattern before their respective House and Senate Calendar Committees. The two bills, written and lobbied by the NRA, represent a drastic departure from the current law and, as such, are adamantly opposed by businesses, hospitals law enforcement and education interests. It is the hope of these interests that the two bills will remain in the Calendar committees for the duration of the session and not be brought to the respective floor chambers for a vote. However, on Thursday, the NRA called for an all-out blitz of pressure on legislators and distributed a threatening letter to each stating that any vote having the effect of moving their gun bills to the floor will be’ scored’ and given greater weight than other NRA-flagged votes. The legislation is being billed by the organization as the “Safe Commuter Act.”

The University of Tennessee joins with higher education and major employers across the state to strongly oppose this legislation.

If the House Calendar and Rules Committee does not pass out the legislation, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Eddie Bass (D-Prospect), can still call for the bill on the House Floor under House Rules. This would require a two thirds vote by the body. Such a vote is one referenced by the NRA and advocates in their letter to legislators. If the bills were to make it to the floor, it is believed that legislators would succumb to pressure from the organization and pass the bills.

Business and other interests continue to oppose the bills on the grounds of workplace safety and overriding the private property rights of business owners. SB 2992/HB 3559 would create a ‘protect class’ of job applicant or employee, that of being a gun owner. Business interests believe that this creates an unnecessary liability to business owners by allowing an unsuccessful applicant, or a disciplined or terminated employee the ability to claim discrimination on the basis of gun ownership or possession.

SB 3002/HB 3560 would require all employers – public and private – to allow gun owners to store firearms in their vehicles on an employer’s property. This would include school grounds, colleges, hospitals state and local government buildings, etc.

Ask your legislators to vote “No.”

Media Coverage of Gun Legislation Anticipated

Today, the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee passed HB3559 and HB3560 out to the Calendar and Rules Committee, which places both bills in the same status with companion Senate bills. The ultimate fate of this legislation is yet to be determined. UT Chattanooga Chancellor Roger Brown represented higher education, speaking as part of a statewide coalition of major employers and chambers of commerce in opposing the bills. Expect media coverage with UT-related comments on Wednesday in The Commercial Appeal and Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Critical Gun Hearings Coming Up

The week of April 16 will be a critical time for gun legislation in the General Assembly.

UT joins TBR and major employers across the state in opposition to these bills based on campus and workplace safety issues.

The House Consumer Affairs Committee will hear testimony on gun bills on Tuesday, April 17 beginning at 8 am central time.

Please contact members you know in both the House and Senate and urge them to vote “no.”

Thank you for your support.