AG: New Gun Bill Doesn’t Impact Old Law Allowing Guns on Campus

The “guns in parking lots” bill pending in the Legislature will not repeal a current law that allows a “non-student adult” to keep a gun in a car on school grounds, according to an opinion issued by state Attorney General Bob Cooper on Monday.
The bill (SB142) has already passed the Senate and is scheduled for a House vote on Thursday. It declares that persons with a handgun carry permit can keep guns in their cars virtually anywhere, including parking lots of companies that ban guns on property.
The bill also declares that permit holders can take guns on school grounds, including colleges and universities, “notwithstanding” a current statute that generally bans them. The old law, however, already has an exception declaring a “non-student adult” can keep a gun in his or her car on a campus.
Gov. Bill Haslam and others have raised the question of whether the new bill would effectively make it illegal for those “non-student adults” to keep guns in their cars on a public school or university campus. Cooper, formally asked that question by Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, said the answer was no.
“SB142 carves out an additional exception to the present prohibition of firearms and firearm ammunition on school property,” the opinion says. “This new exception to the criminal offense outlined in (relevant state law) does not explicitly or implicitly repeal the current exceptions.”
“While the various exceptions listed in current law and created by SB142 may overlap with each other, they are not inconsistent or in conflict with each other, and the fact that a person may come within more than one exception poses no disruption in the harmonious operation of the provisions of this statute,” the opinion says.

Note: The full opinion is HERE.

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