Campfield Loses on ‘Guns on Campus’ and ‘Guns for Legislators’

A Senate committee joined its House counterpart Wednesday in scuttling for this year a bill to allow staff and faculty of Tennessee colleges and universities to carry guns on campus.
After losing on the “guns on campus” bill, sponsor Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, then tried in a separate measure to authorize all current and former state legislators to carry weapons. That proposal, too, was shot down by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The campus guns bill, SB399, would apply to full-time faculty and staff who have handgun carry permits. The House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to a “summer study” on Tuesday, assuring that the measure cannot pass both the House and Senate this year.
When Campfield brought the bill up on the Senate panel Wednesday, Sen. Douglas Overbey, R-Maryville, immediately asked the Knoxville lawmaker to voluntarily send his bill to “summer study” as well, arguing “going forward really doesn’t accomplish anything, given what has happened in the other chamber.”
Campfield refused, noting people in the audience waiting to testify on the bill and saying “it would be an injustice not to let them speak.” Most of those in the audience were campus police officers from across the state, including University of Tennessee Police Chief Gloria Graham, who prepared to speak against the bill.
But Nikki Goeser of Nashville, whose husband was killed by a gunman who was stalking her, was also prepared to testify in favor of the bill. Goeser said she worked at a college campus and the killer, who killed her husband in a bar where she worked part time, could as easily attacked on campus.
Overbey told Campfield that, looking at the audience, “they’d be happy not to spend another moment in here” if the bill were killed. Several officers nodded their heads.
Sen. Beverley Marrero, D-Memphis, then moved to send it to summer study against Campfield’s wishes. Her motion carried 5-3.
“We’re satisfied,” said Graham as she walked from the committee room.
Moments later, Campfield brought up a bill that, as passed by the House, allows judges to carry guns in courtrooms if they go through 16 hours of training and hold a handgun carry permit.
Campfield moved to amend the measure to also allow all current and former members of the General Assembly to carry guns at all times.
Two senators objected that the bill would be granting legislators special treatment, but Campfield said the move was warranted.
“We may upset people and may need to defend ourselves in situations other than where we allowed to carry at this time,” he said.
Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, endorsed Campfield’s idea, saying “it becomes dangerous when you are a high-profile legislator” and “we need to protect ourselves”
But when Campfield’s proposal came to a vote, after considerable debate, it was defeated on a voice vote with only Campfield and Ford audibly supporting it. He then postponed any further action on the overall bill until next week

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