New legislation affects local governments wanting to prohibit handgun permit holders from possessing handguns on property owned or controlled by local governments. Public Chapter 0467 is the result of House Bill 508 and Senate Bill 445. Note that it does not apply to property owned by the state.
The new legislation is aimed at local governments prohibiting possession of handguns by carry permit holders on property owned or administered by the governmental entity. Tennessee Code Annotated §39-17-1359 generally authorizes business, property owners and governmental entities to prohibit handgun permit holders from carrying firearms on their property.
Effective July 1, 2017, local governments may not prohibit a permit holder from carrying handguns unless the following are provided at each public entrance to the property owned by the state.
- Metal detection devices;
- At least one law enforcement or private security officer, trained to conduct inspections of persons entering the property by use of the detection device; and
- Each person (and bags) is inspected by the security officer, when entering through a public entrance, when the property is open to the public.
The above security requirements do not apply to certain governmental facilities. These facilities may continue to prohibit handgun permits holders from possessing handguns with just a sign:
- Facilities licensed by the state, under certain laws, such as mental health, juvenile, health (hospitals), safety and environmental protection.
- School property, parks, playground, civic centers and recreational facilities;
- Buildings where judicial proceedings are conducted, whether or not they are in progress;
- Buildings containing a law enforcement agency;
- Facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services and administer a Head Start program.
The legislation also creates a cause of action for a “party” adversely affected by such an ordinance, policy, etc. of a local government or official that violates §39-17-1359. If a court finds a party was adversely affected by the governmental action, the party can recover the greater of actual damages or three times their attorney fees.
One other note, the new law also changes §39-17-1306, which prohibited carrying weapons in a room where judicial proceedings are in progress. After July 1, the statute prohibits carrying a weapon in a building where judicial proceeding are in progress. If the weapon is a firearm, a violation is a felony.
So, what’s the bottom line? You will see few changes. Many government buildings fit within the exceptions to providing metal detectors and security guards. For example, a court house would not have provide security if “judicial proceedings” are ever conducted inside.
If you would like to speak to James Wagner on this or any other matter, he may be reached at (865) 546-9321.