Sullivan County

Safety, costs debated for Tennessee's metal detector law

A new law just passed in Tennessee requires cities and counties to either allow guns in public buildings and parks or install metal detectors and security guards to keep them out.

I talked to state Senator Jon Lundberg Tuesday to get some clarity on this new law. He says it will level the playing field between those who follow the rules and those who don't.

"When counties and cities put up the sign that says, 'No Weapons Allowed', there's really no assurance right now that people aren't coming in with weapons. The people with handgun carry permits certainly aren't going to break the law and do that, but there's been nothing to prevent a bad guy from bringing in a weapon,” Lundberg said.

I wanted to know how this new law will affect local communities.

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable says the state has forced municipalities to choose between money and what he calls 'perceived safety'.

"It takes the, I think, the responsibility away from our local sheriff and puts it in Nashville," he said.

Venable says he doesn’t expect to see many new metal detectors being installed in northeast Tennessee or additional security guards. But you can expect to see some "no guns allowed" signs being taken down.

"I think we're still safe. And I talked with the sheriff today. You won't see any change in the way we do business here in Blountville. He's still going to provide security for our county meetings, as he always has," Venable said.

Under the new law, anyone with a gun-permit can bring firearms into parks and public venues, like Viking Hall in Bristol.

However, the new law does not apply when school children are using those facilities, meaning guns can still be banned from public places during field trips.

"Will this change the course in Tennessee and upset the apple cart? I don't think so. You know, ten years ago, when we had permits and we expanded that, people said, 'Oh, this is going to change everything, it's going to be the Wild West.' What happened? Nothing,” Lundberg said.

The new law goes into effect in Tennessee on July 1.

It does not affect schools, libraries, mental health facilities, hospitals, courthouses, police stations or Department of Children Services offices or Head Start facilities.

 


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