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Tennessee Colleges Begin Registering Employee Guns on Campus

Full-time employees of Tennessee public colleges and universities now will be able to register with their school to carry a gun on campus if they already have proper permitting. (Morguefile.com)
Full-time employees of Tennessee public colleges and universities now will be able to register with their school to carry a gun on campus if they already have proper permitting. (Morguefile.com)
June 21, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As the subject of gun laws takes center stage in the wake of the Orlando massacre, Tennessee college campus police are beginning to process registrations for employees who wish to carry guns while at work.

The law allowing for full-time employees to carry guns on campus takes effect July 1. While training is not mandatory, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville is offering a training class for people willing to attend, where they'll hear a message from campus Police Chief Troy Lane.

"We don't consider these to be extra personnel for us in an active-shooter situation," Lane said. "What we would advocate for is that you grab those folks around you and look yourselves in an office and defend yourselves and that's it, and let the police do what we're trained to do."

Applying the new law to existing school policies has been challenging for some of the state's schools, particularly those without their own campus police to track who has guns on campus. Earlier this year, some college officials voiced concern over the law, saying it will put more guns on campus and lead to more accidental shootings, or hamper law enforcement's ability to act in an active-shooter situation.

Around midday on Monday, Lane said, his department had accepted about 10 registrations, with some people saying they don't necessarily plan on carrying a gun but would like the option.

"I've long held the belief that we probably have more guns on campus than we realize," he said. "At least I'll have a reasonable idea of who the folks are that are carrying here on campus."

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, eight states now allow people with permits to carry firearms on public college campuses. Tennessee now joins Arkansas as a state that allows only employees to carry guns at work.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN