The Nashville Post recently reported that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam may be open to legislative efforts to include additional protections for employee gun owners in 2014.
Executive Summary: The Nashville Post recently reported that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam may be open to legislative efforts to include additional protections for employee gun owners in 2014.
Last session the General Assembly passed the "Tennessee Safe Commute Act," which makes it legal for individuals with valid handgun carry permits to store firearms and ammunition on their employer's property if they are securely contained in the individual's own privately owned motor vehicle and are out of plain view. Governor Haslam signed the bill into law, which took effect on July 1, 2013. For more information on the law, please see our May 16 Legal Alert, Tennessee's Safe Commute Act May Impact Workplace Weapons Policies.
In May, Attorney General Bob Cooper released an opinion finding the new law does not prevent employers from discharging employees for possessing guns on company property. While not legally binding, the Attorney General's opinion provides employers with support for their right to continue to enforce such policies. For more information on the opinion, please see our May 30 Legal Alert, AG Opinion Provides Guidance on Tennessee's Safe Commute Act.
People in Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey's office have stated that they expect legislation will be introduced in the General Assembly next year to plug the loopholes noted by the Attorney General, and that they expect the politically powerful Ramsey to support such legislation.
Governor Haslam's comments present potential problems for Tennessee employers hoping to stave off further gun legislation in 2014. The governor previously indicated his support for the status quo with regard to gun laws, stating that the General Assembly has done "all we need to, at least for now." In light of his apparent reconsideration of this position, employers may face an uphill battle in trying to prevent the General Assembly from creating new employer restrictions.
We will continue to keep you updated on this issue. If you have any questions regarding this Alert or the Safe Commute Act, please contact the author, Joshua Sudbury, email@example.com, who is an attorney in our Nashville office, or the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.