Permit holders allowed to carry at lawmakers' new offices - WSMV News 4

Permit holders allowed to carry at lawmakers' new offices

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennessee lawmakers are in the middle of moving into new offices, and with that comes a new policy that will carry permit holders to bring firearms into the Cordell Hull building.

It is a policy change, not a law. The decision was up to House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally.

At Legislative Plaza, signs still say “Firearms are prohibited on the premises. All Law enforcement officers excluded." But those signs won't go up in Tennessee lawmakers’ new offices at the Cordell Hull building. On Wednesday, Harwell and McNally confirmed to News 4 that will be changing.

Harwell and McNally sent News4 a statement saying in part:

Tennessee carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographics in our state. To receive a permit, a citizen must be fingerprinted, submit to a background check and receive firearm training. Permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security. A thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit. Once that validity is established, a permit holder will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment while visiting their state government.

The move to make a legislative building gun-free began in 2016 when former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told News 4 he'd like Legislative Plaza to allow guns.

"It's a proven statistic, indisputable, that if gun carry permit holders are allowed in a facility, it is safer, not less safe," said Ramsey in February 2016.

It was too costly to make changes, so Ramsey and Harwell tabled it for when lawmakers moved to their new offices in 2017.

"Wherever the decision making position lies, no one should be deciding to place firearms in the State Capitol. We have state troopers here to protect people," said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.

Stewart said he feels allowing more firearms into the building won't make it any safer.

"We don't want people to feel intimidated because people are wandering around here with firearms. We have very heated discussions up here. We've done great for many years without any firearms," Stewart said.

Gov. Bill Haslam said “The General Assembly has control over the operations of Cordell Hull. The governor’s position regarding the State Capitol has not changed and guns will continue to be prohibited inside the Capitol building.”

Anyone who wants to bring a firearm into this building will have to give their permit to security. Tennessee Highway Patrol will be in charge of screening, and the handgun must be concealed and holstered at all times in the building.

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