Tenn. gun bill thought to improve public safety signed into law

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new gun bill into law Friday that could mean you can longer carry your gun in a city or government owned building.

Under this bill, you will be allowed to enter a government building with a concealed handgun if you have your permit but if there is a metal detector or a security guard at the door, you cannot bring in your gun even with a permit.

Local governments must decide which of those two actions they will allow and that could mean Tri-Cities governments will have to spend big bucks to upgrade their facilities.

“Anybody can just carry a gun and you don’t know,” Johnson City resident, Anne Sayers said.

Sayers is new to Johnson City and she feels safer having a gun with her in public.

“Especially being a girl, being in a new town, you don’t know and I have a little kid,” Sayers said.

Sayers said she understands Haslam’s decision to sign a gun bill into law that some say would improve safety.

The bill says to ban an individual from having a gun on government or city owned property, there needs to be a metal detector or security guard in place or allow people with gun permits to carry their weapon.

Johnson City Mayor David Tomita said it’s a group decision.

“I believe in gun rights we’ll just have to see what the commission as a group decides how we’d like to deal with that,” Tomita said.

Mayor John Clark of Kingsport said in a statement:

“Recently signed gun legislation basically says that those with a legal permit to carry a gun can now legally carry them into certain public buildings that aren’t courts, police, schools, or library.  Those who would carry illegally are going to do so anyway, so this just clears the way for those with permits to do so, too.  
A city can ban guns if they’re willing to set up an airport-style security system, but there has been no interest expressed locally to do that.”


Another resident we spoke with disagrees with people carrying a gun in public unless they’re law enforcement or are trained.

“People make quick thoughts, are quick to judge and are quick to pull a trigger,” Michelle Treece said.

Tomita said safety at city hall has crossed his mind.

“You know the world has changed a lot, it is something we think about when we’re sitting up there making decisions,” Tomita said.

Tomita said the city doesn’t have a dollar amount just yet but if they choose to go the route involving extra security it could be included in this year’s budget.

Libraries and schools are exempt from this legislation. The law also allows for lawsuits if governments try to ban guns where security measures are not in place.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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