Gun owners will be allowed to carry when Tennessee lawmakers move into their new office building this month.
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally announced the decision Wednesday. It will apply to anyone with a permit to carry a handgun.
State lawmakers have been under pressure to allow guns. They've opened many places — including bars and public parks — to firearms but resisted them in legislative buildings. Republican leaders had cited security as the main reason, and the move to the Cordell Hull Building gives them a chance to add more screening.
"Permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security. A thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit. Once that validity is established, a permit holder will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment (rights) while visiting their state government," Harwell and McNally said in a joint statement announcing their decision.
Perhaps as important is the fact that Harwell is running for governor. The Nashville Republican has often been blamed when gun legislation has stalled, and allowing guns into Cordell Hull is a move she can make as House leader.
But the change will not apply to the Tennessee State Capitol building itself, even though the two are connected by an underground corridor.
Gov. Bill Haslam has his offices on the Capitol's first floor, one below legislative chambers, and he does not believe guns should be welcome.