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Ramsey Will ‘Probably’ Back Push for Change in ‘Guns in Parking Lots’

Tennessee employers, public and private, are declaring that the state’s “guns in parking lots” law, which took effect July 1, does nothing to change policies prohibiting their employees from bringing weapons onto their property, even if they have a handgun carry permit.
That has prompted Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a leading supporter of the new law, to declare that he will “probably” support an anticipated push to change the law next year to clarify that permit holders cannot be fired solely for having their gun in a locked car in their employers’ parking lots.
That runs counter to the declared wish of Gov. Bill Haslam that gun laws in Tennessee remain at the “status quo” in the 2014 session with no new gunfights.
“I hate that the attorney general has muddied the waters on this,” said Ramsey, who said he has been receiving complaints from employees of Eastman Chemical Co. this summer who were upset that the company’s prohibition on guns in parking lots is unchanged.
He referred a formal legal opinion from Attorney General Bob Cooper in May that says the new law — while forbidding any criminal prosecution of permit holders complying with its provisions — will have no impact on Tennessee law that otherwise generally allows a company to fire an employee “at will,” for any reason or no reason.

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Governor Signs ‘Guns-in-Parking-Lots’ Bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that would allow people with handgun carry permits to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked.
The signing comes despite questions about whether the legislation affects employment law in Tennessee because the measure would allow workers to store guns in their cars while parked in their employers’ parking lots.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville and four fellow Republican co-sponsors on Thursday submitted a letter for inclusion into the Senate Journal elaborating on their legislative intent for the measure.
While the letter states the bill does not seek to alter the state’s “employment-at-will doctrine,” it notes that businesses could run into trouble if they seek to enforce a gun ban on their property.
“Employers who terminate employees just for exercising this right may violate the state’s clear public policy that handgun carry permit holders are allowed to transport and store firearms or ammunition,” the sponsors wrote.
That analysis appears to conflict with statements by the main House sponsor who stressed in committee and during floor debate that the bill wouldn’t affect employers’ abilities to fire anyone.
The legislation (HB142) was approved 28-5 in the Senate and 72-22 in the House last month. It’s scheduled to take effect July 1.