Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

From The Tennessean:

Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals released a statement saying the law allows jurisdictions to gain more control.

“This bill also leaves to local governments the ultimate decision of whether to prohibit firearms in local government buildings, and the new provisions in this bill give local governments and their permittees more control over security at large entertainment venues,” the statement said.

Licensed health and mental health facilities, buildings with law enforcement and judicial proceedings and Head Start centers are also exempt from the additional security requirements.

The new bill follows the guns-in-parks law, approved in 2015, which prevented local governments from banning people with handgun permits from carrying their weapons in a park.

… Haslam said prior to the bill’s passage that his office worked to make the legislation “more pleasing to local governments.”

But Nashville Mayor Megan Barry sent Haslam a letter on May 11 asking the governor to veto the legislation, saying the bill would “negatively impact local governments such as Nashville.”

“Our concern is for the safety of our traveling public, a large percentage of which are school age children,” Barry, a Democrat, wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Associated Press.

“In addition, we are concerned about provisions that would allow for the tripling of a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees for those challenging local government actions, as this may encourage frivolous lawsuits with the promise of a larger payout for attorneys,” Barry wrote.

2 Responses to Haslam signs controversial gun bill

  • James B. Garrett says:

    Tom, I feel I must challenge your assertions as outlined in the first paragraph of this article. What this bill primarily does is first requires businesses and city and county governments to decide if they want their facilities and buildings to be gun free zones. As the Governor’s spokeswoman said, “This bill also leaves to local governments the ultimate decision of whether to prohibit firearms in local government buildings, ….”

    If that entity does decide to have a gun free zone then, yes, the bill requires the entity to take certain measures to assure all of us that the zone is truly a gun free zone. All of us have a right to be safe and secure in our person. That feeling of safety and security is being challenged everyday with story after story in the newspaper and local news. We commonly refer to this as the right of self-defense. One of Mayor Barry’s concerns was the safety of the traveling public. Ultimately the responsibility for our self-defense lies with ourselves. This responsibility is neither the Government’s nor the Police’s. It is ours. There is ample case law that says the Police do NOT have a responsibility to protect any one individual. When a business or a government deprives us of that right of self-defense and takes away the means to exercise that responsibility they (the business or the government) must assume that responsibility. This bill allows for that and outlines some of the requirements that businesses and governments must follow to demonstrate they are the responsible party.

    The other part of this law is to demonstrate to the business or government if they decide to prohibit us the means of self-defense they must seriously take on that responsibility and if they do not then there are consequences they have to consider. Often this is a major factor in the decision process a business or government uses to reach a decision on taking on the responsibility.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    This is such necessary legislation to deter the gun grabbers from their gun grabbing zeal. When guns are banned only the bad guys will have guns. Makes common sense, no?

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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