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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns Despite Intense Resistance

Teachers Should Carry Guns (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

On Tuesday, the Tennessee state House approved a bill permitting trained teachers to carry handguns in classrooms, a move met with strong opposition from parents, educators, and Democrats.

The legislation passed with a 68-28 vote, with four GOP House members and all Democrats opposing it. Now, the bill heads to Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, who can choose to sign, veto, or let it become law after 10 days.

Under the bill, approved by the state Senate earlier, certain teachers and school staff can carry handguns in classrooms with the consent of the school’s principal, local law enforcement, and school district directors. They must undergo mental health and criminal background checks and receive training in school policing to maintain authorization.

Tennessee lawmakers pass bill to allow armed teachers (Credits: NBC News)

Democrats in the state chambers criticized the bill, arguing it wouldn’t deter school shooters and could lead to unintended harm or increased insurance costs for school districts. Despite attempts by House Democrats to amend the legislation, it passed the Senate along party lines.

During the vote, State House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) cleared the chamber as protesters chanted objections. Republican sponsor Rep. Ryan Williams defended the bill as a deterrent, stressing the need for stringent standards for arming teachers.

Tennessee passes bill to let teachers carry guns in schools (Credits: WBBJ TV)

However, State Rep. Justin Pearson (D) condemned the bill’s passage, calling it a bleak day for Tennessee, children, teachers, and communities. He expressed dismay over the prioritization of guns over student safety.

This move comes as Tennessee Republicans have intensified efforts to relax gun restrictions, particularly following the Covenant School shooting last year, where a former student killed six people. While a 2016 law permitted guns in schools in two counties, neither county chose to implement it.

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