Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tennessee Law to Exempt County Commissioners from Gun Law takes effect on July 1

Knoxville City-County Building

On July 1, 2018, HB 1939, now Pu.. Ch. 880, will go into effect. The law creates a special exemption for county commissioners so they may legally exercise their Second Amendment rights in public buildings that contain courthouses. From
A new Tennessee state law will go into effect at the beginning of July that will allow county commissioners to bring their handguns into buildings where meetings are held.

Anderson County Commissioner Steven Mead is one commissioner saying he looks forward to July 1.

"I won't have to leave my gun out where it can be stolen in my car," he said.

In fact, Mead helped write the new legislation. He began lobbying the legislature after an existing law was changed. It resulted in a ban on any guns in buildings with active courthouses.

The bill was written in response to  HB 0508 (SB0445).  The bill went into effect as law in Tennessee on July 1, 2017. That law, now Pub. Ch 467, eliminated many gun free zones in Tennessee, but made buildings containing courthouses into gun free zones.

The previous state law only banned guns in courtrooms that were in use. But the law allowed local governments to ban guns in buildings. Many buildings where there were courthouses were already gun free zones.

Passage of HB 0508 was a compromise for Second Amendment supporters. More gun free zones were eliminated than were created. There was no exception in the law for lawmakers or other public employees, except for law enforcement officers.

Many buildings that contain courtrooms also contain numerous other facilities. The often contain county clerks offices, county assessors officers, motor vehicle licensing facilities, and others.

Commissioner Mead's concerns about guns in cars being stolen apply equally to all legal gun carriers that have business to be carried out in a building that happens to have a courtroom in it.

The legislature was able to act in a timely fashion to grant special privilege to county commissioners. 

HB 1939 was introduced January 29, 2018.

The bill was assigned to Civil Justice Committee on  January 31.

HB 1939 passed the committee on March 22, 2018.

The bill was passed by the House, 71-17, with 2 not voting, on April , 2018.

HB 1939 was passed by the Senate on April 18, 2018, 27 to 1.

It was signed into law by Governor on April 26, 2018.

HB 1939 goes into effect on 1 July, 2018.

The bill only grants the exercise of Second Amendment rights to County Commissioners, not to city officials. Mayors are out of luck. From HB 1939
As enacted, allows county commissioner in the actual discharge of the commissioner's duties who has a valid handgun carry permit to carry in buildings in which county commission meetings are held, but not in room in which judicial proceeding in progress; not applicable to member of legislative body of metropolitan government. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
This is another case of special privilege for certain government officials. Second Amendment supporters in Tennessee will likely use it as a springboard to reform Pub. Ch. 467's ban on carrying in buildings containing a courtroom. The obvious reform would change that part of state law back to make only courtrooms in actual use gun free zones, not entire county administrative buildings.

The arguments used by County Commissioners apply equally to all who can legally carry concealed weapons.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

All animals are equal (but some are more equal than others).

One law for me and another law for thee.

ScienceABC123 said...

Bad law. The law should apply to everyone.

Anonymous said...

To single out a commissioner as above the law and not allow other's of similar or more important positions (i.e., Mayor, etc.) similar treatment is clearly not right. What next a special law to allow commissioners to violate the existing speed limits and stop signs as they see fit? VERY un-American and egotistical.