- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law Wednesday that would allow teachers and other employees with handgun carry permits to be armed on the campuses of the state’s public colleges and universities.

The bill, which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, passed the House 69-24 Wednesday. It passed in the Senate on Tuesday.

Before the House vote, some lawmakers questioned why the bill was going forward despite opposition from many of those who work on campus. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said there were a number of people at the University of Tennessee who oppose the measure and he read aloud emails from UT professors who said they would leave the school if the state passed the law. He asked why the lawmakers would be interfering with its flagship university.

“The Big Orange is a huge source of economic power and growth for our state, and I think we should tread very lightly when we are doing things that the people at this very important institution don’t want us to do,” Stewart said.

But Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, said the law would be a source of attraction to some.

“For every one of these professors who want to leave, fine; there are more than enough who do want to carry and stay.”

Holt stressed that he worked with the higher education officials to address some of their concerns. He did not say what their concerns were.

The bill allows faculty and staff to carry a concealed handgun on campus if the employee has a valid handgun carry permit. However, Holt said they would still have to notify law enforcement if they were going to carry a concealed weapon on campus. They would be barred from bringing the weapons to stadiums or gymnasiums, hospitals, school-sponsored events or meetings where disciplinary or tenure issues are being discussed.

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