Apr 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Tennessee lawmakers pass bill allowing teachers to carry guns in schools

Illustration of a row of pencils getting shorter with a bullet at the end.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Tennessee House passed a bill Tuesday that would allow some public school teachers to carry concealed guns on campus.

Why it matters: This was the last legislative hurdle for the measure before it goes to Gov. Bill Lee's desk.

Driving the news: The measure is an extension of long-running Republican efforts to chip away at firearm restrictions. The bill passed largely along party lines in the House and Senate.

  • Protesters screamed out from the House gallery and chanted "Blood on your hands!" as lawmakers voted.

State of play: Activists have pleaded with lawmakers to enact modest gun-control laws in the aftermath of the mass shooting at The Covenant School. But the Republican supermajority has refused to even debate such measures and instead went the opposite direction Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers say allowing teachers to carry guns will improve school safety.

  • Democrats and activists, including some Covenant parents, say arming teachers would make schools more dangerous while increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Zoom in: The bill would allow K-12 public school employees to carry a gun if they pass a background check, receive training and meet other requirements.

  • School leaders would also need to sign off.
  • A Metro Nashville Public Schools spokesperson told the Nashville Banner the district agrees "it is best and safest for only approved active-duty law enforcement to carry weapons on campus."

The big picture: The Giffords Law Center reports that about half of the states have laws allowing some school employees to carry concealed guns.

Editor's note: This is a breaking story and may be updated with additional details.

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