During last year's contentious debate over legislation that would have allowed employees to keep guns stored in cars parked in their employer's parking lots, various higher education officials from around the state testified that such a law would work against their efforts to minimize the number of guns on college campuses.
University officials said their security efforts, and their ability to respond to a potential threat, were best served by knowing who was supposed to have a gun on campus and who wasn't. Without that knowledge, they said, keeping students safe would be more difficult. Some, such as Belmont University president Bob Fisher, expressed concern about giving "untrained students or untrained employees" easy access to weapons.
Despite all that, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey reportedly told higher education officials on Monday that he has already drafted legislation that would allow handgun carry permit holders to keep their weapons in their cars parked on university lots.
"It amazes me that when you put g-u-n in a sentence, people seem to lose common sense," Ramsey, R-Blountville, said. "Something is going to pass this year. I want to put this behind us and forget about it. ...About four percent of the people in the state of Tennessee have a gun carry permit card. ...You have to take a half-day class, take a test on a (shooting) range, and go through a TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) background check.
"There has been zero problem with these people across the state. ...If the whole population was as responsible as the people who carry these little cards here, we could literally shut down our prisons. ...You should be able to keep a firearm locked in your glove compartment. ...If we passed this bill tomorrow, you wouldn't know the difference the next day. We may exempt out schools, that's fine, but even then we're talking about public parking lots. ...There's got to be a way to keep it in a car legally. "
the News-Sentinel story Hayes, East Tennessee State University vice president for Health Affairs and chief operating officer Wilsie Bishop asked Ramsey, "Why do you want to have a gun?"
"Self protection," Ramsey is reported to reply. "There are nuts in this world, but I'm not one of them."
The debate over guns (whatever lots they may be in) will be one to watch when the legislature reconvenes in January. Last year, the issue pitted two conservative constituencies against each other: business interests arguing constitutional property rights; and gun-rights activists, including the National Rifle Association, arguing the Second Amendment and ... property rights. As GOP leaders try to herd their new supermajority, this issue could be one to divide the cats.
Note: I've updated the post to correct the attribution. The story is from Hank Hayes of TimesNews.net.