Guns in Parking Lots Debate Centers on College Campuses

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey appears at an event in Blountville with Governor Bill Haslam this summer. Photo credit TN Photo Services

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey appears at an event in Blountville with Governor Bill Haslam this summer. Photo credit TN Photo Services

To exempt or not to exempt college campuses when it comes to storing firearms in cars – that’s one question dividing Republican lawmakers preparing to revive a so-called “guns in parking lots” bill.

University police chiefs have united in opposition. But this week, talking to public college administrators in Northeast Tennessee, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey said like it or not his legislation is ready to go. Ramsey says he would entertain exempting schools, but he notes their parking lots are public places and that people already store guns in their glove compartments, just illegally.

Governor Bill Haslam says “educational institutions” should be excluded, but he sees where the Lieutenant Governor is coming from.

“I think what Ron’s point is, is maybe we’ve been making a bigger deal out of is than it is. Right now, there’s a whole lot of people who are doing that and nobody knows one way or the other.”

Outside of universities, some of the largest employers in the state have opposed having guns stored in their parking lots over liability concerns. Haslam says he may help shape legislation on the matter but won’t put forward his own bill, saying guns are not one of his priorities.

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