Sullivan County

House passes guns in parking lots bill

Waiting for Governor's signature

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - A bill that would let handgun carry permit holders keep loaded guns in their cars in parking lots in Tennessee is heading to the desk of the governor.

The bill would mean businesses could no longer prohibit people with a handgun carry permit from storing firearms in vehicles parked on their property.

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey was a sponsor of the bill in the Senate. He said he understand why it was such a battle between property rights versus gun rights.

The House voted on Thursday 72-22 to send the so-called guns in parking lots bill to Governor Bill Haslam to be signed. "I think he'll sign it," Ramsey said.

The legislation would allow 400,000 Tennesseans with handgun carry permits to keep a loaded gun in their car no matter where they're parked. "I think all these wild scenarios we've heard will not take place and in the end, we will have passed a bill that will allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves if they choose to," said Ramsey.

There are places where the guns can't be kept including the parking lots of airports and government facilities. "There are a few places covered by federal law, like NFS in Erwin," Ramsey explained. "There are some federal laws that override state laws."

The bill has some people nervous, especially with having guns in parking lots at bars and nightclubs where people may have been drinking. "That's against the law now and it will be against the law after this bill passes. You can't be a gun carry permit holder and be caught drinking. You'll have your license suspended," he said. According to Ramsey, about 2,300 handgun carry permits have been suspended because the owner was caught drinking.

Ray Ratheal at Shooters Edge said you can't punish people who follow the rules with these laws. "Criminals don't care what the law is, regardless. So making a law limiting where you can carry a gun only affects law abiding citizens."

The Senate approved the bill a couple of weeks ago.

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