Tennessee bill calls for metal detectors, security guards where guns are banned

The Tennessee House passed a bill Wednesday that would require cities and counties to install metal detectors and post security guards in places where guns are not allowed.

The Associated Press reported the measure, House Bill 508, passed on a 70-24 vote in the House and now will head to the Senate for consideration.

The bill essentially gives cities and counties an ultimatum: either allow lawful gun owners with handgun permits to carry firearms or install metal detectors and hire security guards for the public buildings, parks, and buses where authorities would have guns banned.

The proposal’s sponsor, Rep. William Lamberth, said his bill was meant to ensure guns weren’t present at places where they banned, the Associated Press reported.

“The goal here is to ensure that in areas where we’re allowing locals and entities to prohibit guns, that they actually aren’t there,” Lamberth, a Cottontown Republican, said of his bill.

Under the measure, some facilities would still be able to prohibit guns without metal detectors and guards. Those buildings include mental health facilities; libraries; schools; parks used by schools; Department of Children Services offices; buildings where judicial proceedings take place; buildings that hold law enforcement agencies; and Head Start facilities.

Gun control advocates from group Moms Demand Action have come out strongly against the measure, with Tennessee chapter leader Linda McFayden-Ketchum arguing the bill would make Tennessee less safe.

“Tennesseans know best when it comes to keeping our state safe, and our towns and cities shouldn’t have to worry about an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits when they are trying to do their jobs,” McFayden-Ketchum said in a statement. “Gun violence is a deadly problem that kills more than 90 Americans every day and injures hundreds more and we should be doing everything we can to reduce it – not passing laws that punish those who try.”

The Tennessee Public Transportation Association, which would be forced either to install metal detectors on buses or allow guns, has also come out against the bill.

“It would be fiscally and operationally impossible,” said Jason Spain, Tennessee Public Transportation Association executive director.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has said he will defer to the Legislature’s decision on the matter.