Subject to various exceptions, present law makes it a Class E felony for a person to possess or carry, with the intent to go armed, weapons, including firearms, on school property. Also, subject to various exceptions, present law makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a person to carry or possess a firearm on school property, even without the person having the intent to go armed.
One of the exceptions to the above offenses is for state and local law enforcement officers, when in the discharge of their official duties. Present law authorizes an off-duty law enforcement officer to carry a firearm onto school property during regular school hours if the officer provides immediate notice to the school principal, or other administrative staff person. This bill deletes the requirement that an off-duty law enforcement officer must provide immediate notice to the school principal, or other administrative staff person when possessing a firearm on school property during regular school hours.
This bill also adds an exception to the above offenses for enhanced handgun carry permit holders to carry or possess a handgun on school property, unless the board of education, school, college, or university board of trustees, regents, or directors provides armed security on the school property and the permit holder knows that the respective school provides armed security on the school property; provided, that the person carrying a handgun keeps the handgun concealed on their person and secure from unauthorized access at all times.
Under present law, in Bedford, Giles, and Rutherford counties, the general authorization for law enforcement officers to carry firearms at all times only applies to law enforcement officers who are law enforcement officers for those counties or law enforcement officers for municipalities located therein. This bill adds that the exception for Bedford, Giles, and Rutherford counties does not apply if the law enforcement officer is on school grounds or inside a school building.
This bill adds authorization for a community corrections officer who holds a valid Tennessee enhanced handgun carry permit to carry a handgun at all times on school property while in the course of employment and engaged in the actual discharge of official duties, except as provided by federal law or lawful orders of court.
In order to carry a firearm on school property, present law generally requires that a school employee, among other things, have the joint written authorization of the director of schools in conjunction with the principal of the school. This bill prohibits an LEA that does not provide armed security from prohibiting the LEA's employees or contractors from possessing and carrying a handgun on school grounds. This bill adds similar prohibitions for public institutions of higher education, governing entities of private institutions of higher education, and governing entities of each private K-12 schools, that do not provide armed security.Statutes affected:
Introduced: 39-17-1309(e), 39-17-1309, 39-17-1309(e)(4), 39-17-1350, 49-7-161, 49-50-803