NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A proposal that would
allow handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles no
matter where they are parked is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.
The bill sponsored by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey was approved 8-0 on Tuesday, with one abstention. It is now headed to the Calendar Committee, which means it's headed to the Senate floor.
This new and improved version of the so-called "Guns in Trunks" bill allows anyone with a valid handgun carry permit to store a gun or ammunition in their privately owned vehicle while in a public or private parking area like at work.
The gun or ammunition must be hidden in a locked trunk, glove box or other container affixed to the vehicle if the person is not in the vehicle.
This bill removes employers from civil liability in most situations, but businesses represented by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce like Fed Ex, Nissan and Volkswagon still have concerns.
"This is a subject that's important to them," said Bill Ozier with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. "And when they decide whether they're going to expand an existing operation or put in a new operation, they may look at another state that's not as gun friendly."
In its present form the bill would allow also allow handgun permit holders store weapons on school property, something Governor Bill Haslam opposes. Right now it's a Class E felony for anyone to carry a firearm on any public or private school property or on a bus.
The property owner would not be responsible for the theft of the firearm or ammunition stored in the vehicle.
This legislation still has a long way to go. It also must pass the House, where it looks like there might be a competing bill.
The measure backed by the
National Rifle Association failed last year amid property rights arguments made
by the business community. The NRA and other gun rights advocates blamed House
Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart for the bill's failure, and
bankrolled a successful effort to oust her in the primary.
Bill Ozier, chairman of
the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the proposal is better
than last year's. But he said it still needs specifics.