AG: No guns at school events (unless school is home, too)

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has a new opinion on carrying guns on property being used for school purposes. Basically, there’s a general ban — but it doesn’t apply to a residence being used for home schooling.

Below is the short version of questions posed by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, and the opinion answers. The full opinion with analysis is HERE.

Question 1: If a church or other religious entity operates any form of school on church grounds or allows other entities to use church property for school purposes (e.g., classrooms, gym and/or
sporting fields), is the property “school property” for the purposes of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-
1309, which makes it a criminal offense to possess or carry weapons, including firearms, on school property?

Opinion 1: Yes, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309, it is a criminal offense to possess or carry weapons, including firearms, on those portions of the property of a religious institution being used for school purposes.

Question 2: If the answer to Question 1 is yes, is it a criminal offense to possess or carry a firearm anywhere on the church property or only on those portions of the property being used for school purposes and, if only on those portions of the property being used for school purposes, how arethose portions identified so that persons have adequate notice?

Opinion 2: The prohibition against carrying weapons applies only to those portions of the property of the religious institution being used for school purposes. What portions are being used for school purposes is a fact-dependent question and can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1309(d) places the obligation for proper notification on the school’s administrator.

Question 3: If the answer to Question 1 is yes, does Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309 apply at all times or only during those times when property is actively used for school purposes, and if it applies only while property is actively used for school purposes, how are those periods of time identified so that individuals have adequate notice?

Opinion 3: The prohibition against carrying a firearm on the property of a religious institution appliesonly while the property is being used or operated by the school. Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1309(d) places the obligation for proper notification on the school’s administrator.

Question 4: Does Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309 apply to private property on which home schooling activities are carried out?

Opinion 4: No, home schooling appears to fall outside the scope of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309.

Question 5: Are the mandatory signage requirements contained in Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309(d) applicable to those properties that are “used” but not owned by a school?

Opinion 5: Yes, a school administrator should place signs compliant with the statute about the areas operated or used by the school while the areas are being operated or are in use by the school.