Johnson City

Guns in parking lot bill advances

Parking Lot Guns

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Amid talks of more gun control and restrictions, one local state legislature is looking to expand where folks can take their guns.

Tennessee law could soon allow loaded guns on college campuses. "This bill is most likely to become state law," says ETSU police chief Jack Cotrell. "We'll watch it closely over the next few days within the House."

The state senate approved a bill Monday night that allows concealed carry permit holders to leave their loaded guns in their car in a parking lot.

The companion legislation is quickly advancing through the house. "This is not about where you are, it's about your car," says Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, who sponsored the bill in the state senate.

ETSU police chief Jack Cotrell testified before the state legislature in previous years to block similar legislation from passing.

He says the bill presented this year is much different. "Those bills had a lot of tentacles reaching out to employers, what employers could do and what employers could not do," described Cottrell.

Because the guns will be tucked away out of sight, the police chief does not expect any enforcement issues. He feels folks won't be able to tell if they are there.

Students have mixed reactions to the idea of guns on campus. "As a student I would like to be able to get my gun if something happens," says ETSU student Randy Baker, "but as a father I would want my kids kept away from it, so it's a catch-22."

"In my opinion gun crime is inherent," says ETSU student Jesse Reed. "It's always going to be there, always going to be bad people with guns, always have access to those guns, giving good people access to their guns promotes safety."

While the bill would allow loaded fire arms on campus and in parking lots, it would not expand where they can be carried.

The police chief says if the guns are not stored property that becomes an entirely different issue, even for carry permit holders.

The House version of the bill is scheduled for a hearing in the civil justice subcommittee on Wednesday.

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