A Tennessee Law Allowing Firearm Possession in Private Vehicles on School Property Should Be Repealed

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No guns on campus

Photo credit: centurytimesonline.com

The 2012 rate of firearm-related homicides in the Tennessee (TN) was higher than the national average (15 in TN vs 10.5 US average). In 2011, TN had among the highest aggravated assaults with a firearm per capita of all the 50 states, and in 2010, TN had among the worst gun murder rates in the nation – see TN gun violence factsheet. Whereas TN is among those states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a school campus, it is however, since 1996, not an offense for a non-student adult to possess a firearm, if the firearm is not being handled and is contained within a private vehicle operated by the adult on school property – see Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309 with the TN Attorney General’s opinion.  This law holds not withstanding or regardless of the school policy.

This law that allows non-student adults to possess firearms in their private vehicles while on school property should be repealed because, given the high firearm assault rate in TN, the law introduces insecurity in schools making them unsafe for the learners and workers. Indeed presidents of the main university systems in TN have expressed opposition to the law (see their various communications – UT and TBR) arguing, correctly, that the best approach to campus security is via law enforcement officers. Those being allowed, by this law, to possess firearms on campuses do not necessarily have the proper, long-term training in firearms and the control/judgment that would be expected from security professionals. Call your TN elected leaders and ask them to have this law repealed to protect our schools.

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2 Responses to “A Tennessee Law Allowing Firearm Possession in Private Vehicles on School Property Should Be Repealed”

  1. mboeck2 Says:

    I had no idea TN was such a dangerous state with regards to gun violence! Great use of links, statistics, and graphics. And the law in question seems to be an entirely ridiculous one that need not be in existence. Given the specificity of the law to school campuses, I would be interested to see statistics on the percentage of incidents involving gun violence on school campuses, which if significant, would provide an even stronger argument to lawmakers to repeal the current regulation.

  2. eonyang1 Says:

    Thanks for your comment. Because a majority of colleges have policies that in one way or another keep guns out of colleges, college campuses have been shown to be safer than surrounding communities. After the federal laws restricting guns in schools were adopted in the early 1990s, school-associated student homicide rates significantly decreased. A study by the US Justice Department showed that 93% of violence against college students occurs off campus – see also this. Indeed a 1999 study by the Department of Education study showed that the overall homicide rate at colleges was 0.07 per 100,000 students compared to the overall country’s rate of 5.7 per 100,000 persons. Also in workplaces that allow “firearms and other weapons at work were more likely to be the site of an on-the-job homicide compared to workplaces that prohibited workers from carrying weapons”. Allowing guns on campuses will only be a primer to such increased firearm violence and make colleges less safe.

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