Tennessee Law Exempting County Commissioners From Public Building Gun Ban Takes Effect July 1

A few animals who exercise their Second Amendment rights are about to be more equal than others in Tennessee. A new state law that creates a special exemption for county commissioners so that they may legally exercise their Second Amendment rights in public buildings containing courthouses is about to go into effect.

From wbir.com:

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.

That’s nice for him. The story doesn’t mention what he expects everyday citizens will do to secure their firearms when they’re forced to disarm before entering these buildings.

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 an earlier law that went into effect on July 1, 2017. That law eliminated many gun-free zones in the Volunteer State, but made buildings containing courthouses off limits to carriers. The previous law only banned guns in courtrooms that were in use.

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

Many buildings that contain courtrooms also contain numerous other facilities frequently needed by the public such as county clerk offices, county assessor offices, motor vehicle licensing bureaus, and more

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 public building that happens to have a courtroom in it.

The new bill only grants the exercise of Second Amendment rights to County Commissioners, but not city officials. Mayors are out of luck, too.

From legiscan.com 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. Or should.

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

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