TOM MONTGOMERY, NGU RISK MANAGEMENT
We recently asked our TNRMT attorney to brief us regarding the laws surrounding this topic. The following is a summary of his remarks:
Guns, or more specifically when and where a person can carry a gun, have been a hot topic lately. The Tennessee General Assembly has struggled to enact laws that balance the Second Amendment rights of citizens and the need to protect children at schools and on playgrounds and governmental employees at work. Since 2014, the Tennessee General Assembly has enacted six separate laws dealing with guns and public property. Four of those laws were enacted in 2016.
Generally, law enforcement officers can carry weapons anywhere, including school property.
Firearms of any kind are generally prohibited on school property. Exceptions do apply.
Persons with handgun carry permits may have handguns in their cars parked in parking lots on government property (including school property) or as they drop off/pickup passengers so long as the handguns are not visible and the handguns are not used.
Governmental entities can prohibit firearms and ammunition in cars they own or control if they adopt a policy.
Governmental entities can prohibit all weapons on property owned or controlled if they post notices.
A person (even a person with a handgun carry permit) cannot have a handgun on any property being used at the time by a school for an athletic or school-related event.
The full briefing includes several FAQs on the topic as well as definitions of certain terms including “Recreational Property”. In addition, he specifies groups that may be exempt from laws and/or rules that would otherwise prohibit the possession of a firearm on these government properties. The full briefing can be viewed at the following link:
We suggest you to read the full briefing so you are informed of Tennessee’s handgun laws and the exceptions to those laws.
Q: What happens if a county fails to adopt a policy prohibiting firearms on its property?
A: A county (or any governmental entity) possesses immunity from claims based solely on the failure to prohibit weapons on its property. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1325.
Q: Is a county liable if it decides to prohibit firearms on its property?
A: Although the General Assembly considered a bill that would have imposed liability on landowners if they prohibited firearms on their property, that bill did not pass. Consequently, a governmental entity does not have increased liability because it elects to prohibit firearms on its property.
Q: Does the presence of firearms or ammunition in a parking lot increase liability?
A: No. The presence of firearms or ammunition in cars owned by employees in the parking lot does not, in and of itself, “constitute a failure by the employer to provide a safe workplace.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-312.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
NGU Risk Management