NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today responded to Georgia Governor Deal’s decision to veto legislation that would have forced Georgia colleges to allow guns on campus. Deal listened to the nearly unanimous outcry from Georgia’s campus communities and vetoed a bill that would have forced guns onto college campuses.. On Monday, Governor Haslam chose to force Tennessee campuses to allow guns on campus in spite of overwhelming opposition from Tennessee college faculty, students and law enforcement.
In a statement issued yesterday, Governor Haslam said that he would allow the bill to pass into law without his signature despite his concern that it did not give enough discretion to campus security and administrators to make security decisions about their campuses. Governor Haslam’s comments echoed those of campus officials who spoke out about the dangers of the policy, including John Edens, Chief of Police at Northeast State Community College, and Bruce Harber, Chief of Police and Vice President of Administration at the University of Memphis. Georgia Governor Deal had previously stated that he would either sign or veto the guns on campus bill. In response to Governor Haslam’s decision to let guns on campus become law without his signature, Deal said, “I don’t walk away from bills.”
STATEMENT FROM LINDA MCFADYEN-KETCHUM, VOLUNTEER WITH THE TENNESSEE CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“This week the governors of Georgia and Tennessee both had the opportunity to stand up for college communities who have said repeatedly that they do not want to be forced to allow guns on their campuses. In Georgia, Governor Deal took those concerns to heart and vetoed the legislation. In Tennessee, Governor Haslam ignored his own constituents to side with the gun lobby. Tennessee college faculty, students and law enforcement said they didn’t want this. In Georgia that mattered. It’s unfortunate that here in Tennessee – in spite of close to universal opposition from college communities and Governor Haslam’s own stated concerns – our governor failed to stand up for public safety and veto a dangerous guns on campus bill.”
Throughout the 2016 legislative session, the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America worked as part of a coalition to encourage lawmakers to keep public safety as a priority. Tennessee volunteers with Moms Demand Action drove over three thousand calls and emails to lawmakers, testified in opposition to guns on campus before the House Civil Justice Committee at the State Capitol, held their first ever Lobby Day at the State Capitol and recently hosted a “teach-in” panel at East Tennessee State University to discuss the potential dangers of the new guns on campus law.
Earlier this month, Governor Haslam signed legislation that requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to notify local officials when dangerous domestic abusers illegally try to buy a gun and fail a background check. Just after Governor Haslam signed that legislation strengthening Tennessee’s background check system, the legislature voted down Senate Bill 1613, which would have allowed some violent felons – including those convicted of voluntary manslaughter, felony domestic abuse, aggravated robbery and even kidnapping – to regain their ability to possess firearms almost immediately after their sentence is completed. Earlier this session, the Senate Judiciary Committee stopped Senate Bill 1483, a bill that would have dismantled the current requirement that a person who wants to carry a handgun in public must undergo a criminal history check and get a permit.
Last year, Tennessee was one of seventeen states that rejected guns on campus legislation. Texas and Idaho are two of the only other states to pass guns on campus bills in recent years and they are already experiencing the negative consequences. Just months after Idaho’s guns on campus bill went into effect, a professor shot himself during class. In Texas, renowned professors have announced that they will leave the University of Texas system to take jobs in other states, while many of the educators who have remained in Texas have said that the law is undermining professor’s’ ability to teach. What’s more, Texas universities will have to endure skyrocketing insurance and security costs as a result of the law – expenses that will cut into research budgets. By letting S.B. 2376 be enacted into law, Governor Haslam has misguidedly subjected Tennessee colleges and universities to these same risks and costs.