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Classroom concealed carry bill headed to Lee

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(The Center Square) – A bill allowing qualified employees to concealed carry firearms in a K-12 school is now headed to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee after it pass the Tennessee House.

Senate Bill 1325 passed the House 68-28 after spirited debate.

The list of requirements before an employee – which includes teachers, administrators and other staff – is approved for concealed carry includes 40 hours of training in school policing along with the approval of the school principal, superintendent and local law enforcement department.

The identity of those employees who are approved for open carry will remain confidential except for those three approving individuals.

“The discussion around this bill is dramatically different from what you have heard from me already,” said Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville. “The facts are that this bill is 100% permissive.

Those approved must also complete another background check and finger-printing process, have a concealed carry permit, complete a psychological evaluation and have completed the 40 hours of training including hands-on training.

Williams noted a law has allowed distressed counties to do something similar to this for the past seven years and individuals on higher education campuses to carry concealed firearms with an enhanced carry permit without the dean or president of the school being made away.

Williams said the idea of the legislation is “protecting those students who may be trapped as well as creating what currently does not exist In Tennessee, a deterrent in how it pertains to our schools.”

The Tennessean reported on Wednesday that Metro Nashville Public Schools do not plan to allow staff to concealed carry firearms.

Rep. Justin J. Pearson, D-Memphis, said he believes that additional guns in schools will lead to the guns getting into the wrong hands or the wrong person being injured by errant shots, calling the legislation “dangerous and despicable.”

“I believe that the culpability should be on not just the LEA but the state for the people who die when these handguns are being used,” Pearson said.