A proposal that would allow handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of the bill 8-0 on Tuesday. It's now being scheduled for a full Senate vote and could be on the Senate floor later this week.
"If they are denied to have that weapon, should they choose to have one in their automobile while at work, then they are denied the right for self protection to and from work," said State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin.
The measure backed by the National Rifle Association failed last year amid property rights arguments made by the business community. The NRA and other gun rights advocates blamed House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart for the bill's failure and bankrolled a successful effort to oust her in the primary.
It's an issue that has caused a lot of controversy at the legislature, and Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed concerns in the past about allowing guns anywhere on college campuses.
Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the proposal is better than last year's but still needs specifics.
Some business groups say this bill could impact future job growth in the state and corporate relocations into Tennessee.
"This is a subject that's important to them, and when they decide if they are going to expand a new operation, they might look at another state that's not as gun friendly," Ozier said.
But lawmakers said it's important to protect the legal permit holders who may be carrying their guns anyway.
"When you pull into a grocery store parking lot, or stop at your favorite fast food restaurant, or look for a parking lot at the mall before Christmas, it's a pretty safe bet that there are cars around you that belong to carry permit holders and there may be weapons in those cars," Johnson said.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is sponsoring the bill, and he said he would like for it to move to a vote in the Senate very soon.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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