The Tennessee Firearms Association, Tennessee’s “no-compromise” 2nd Amendment advocacy group, announced its support for House Bill 2208 and Senate Bill 2563, which are jointly sponsored by Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) and Sen. Joey Hensley (R – Hohenwald). These bills would give teachers and school employees additional options for voluntary firearms training – training which Tennessee’s law enforcement has apparently refused to provide.
Rep. Byrd, who is an educator and school administrator, passed legislation a few years ago which would have allowed public school teachers and school employees who wanted to carry a personal firearm on school grounds the ability to do so. That law presently only applies in the two counties that Rep. Byrd represents because the Legislature, under the leadership of Beth Harwell, refused to make it applicable statewide. The existing law authorizes law enforcement officials to train teachers and staff in schools in those two counties. This is an entirely voluntary program and no teacher or school employee is required to participate. However, if they do want to carry a firearm while on school grounds, they have to have more training under this law than is required to get a civilian handgun permit.
The Tennessee legislature included in the original law that local sheriffs and chiefs of police would have the authority to train these teachers and school staff. However, these law enforcement agencies have either failed or refused requests to provide the training. It is not clear why law enforcement is unwilling to take steps that the Tennessee legislature determined would be a step toward protecting students and school employees. Since law enforced has failed or refused to help protect the schools, Rep. Byrd and Sen. Hensley are proposing this year that the teachers and school employees can obtain the training from other entities who are authorized to conduct the same or similar training.
TFA Executive Director John Harris announced TFA’s support, “We were pleased several years ago that Rep. Byrd and Sen. Hensley took the steps to allow at least some teachers and school employees to choose to be armed while at school. We have been concerned since that time, however, that the law enforcement agencies in this state which were legislatively authorized to train teachers have apparently failed or refused to do so. This new legislation will provide those teachers and school employees with other options to get the kind of training that the legislature has specified even if law enforcement would rather not cooperate in this public policy decision.” Harris continued, “TFA is proud to encourage these two legislators on this effort and encourages other legislators to push this into law even if professional law enforcement agencies continue to stonewall or seek to derail this decision.” As of February 26, the legislation has eighteen co-sponsors in the House and none in the Senate.
“TFA will be watching to identify which legislators stand firm to support this legislation and which try to derail it. We will be messaging to our members which legislators care about our children and public employees and which ones have other priorities. We are particularly alert to monitor the degree to which opposition to this legislation arises from the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, the Tennessee Chiefs of Police Association, the Tennessee Municipal League, the Tennessee Education Association, the School Board Superintendents, County Executives, County Commission groups, the Chambers of Commerce, Moms Demand Action, the Governor’s taxpayer funded lobbyists, and any other groups that oppose the implementation of this public policy to promote the safety of school employees and children,” said Harris. “These are the same people and the same groups of people who have histories of opposing some or all of the bills that seek to allow Tennesseans the choice to fully exercise their rights as protected by the 2nd Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution.” The Tennessee Firearms Association is a not for profit organization which has been working for more than two decades to protect and advance those rights protected by the 2nd Amendment. You can get more information about the Tennessee Firearms Association at www.tennesseefirearms.com