Despite a strong Republican majority in the house that makes it unlikely any of the radical anti-gun bills proposed this year will ever see the light of day, the force of that majority wasn’t enough to get one bill out of committee that would have actually helped gun owners.

A proposal aiming to allow concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms into businesses even with signage stating otherwise was narrowly defeated by the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee, as reported by the Nashville Tennessean.

Senate Bill 2180, championed by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, sought to exempt concealed carry or enhanced-handgun carry permit holders from Tennessee’s current criminal code, which prohibits “possessing a firearm in a concealed manner” if the property owner has posted signage banning weapons on the premises.

Opposition to the bill came from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, contending that the legislation would effectively allow any individual with a valid handgun permit to carry a gun into state buildings, including sensitive locations like jails, prisons or Department of Children’s Services facilities.

Under the proposed bill, business and property owners would retain the right to request that person discovered to be carrying remove the firearm from their premises, with law enforcement authorized to enforce a trespassing charge if the individual did not comply. Hensley argued that businesses could still opt to hire security or use metal detectors to prohibit firearms, but individuals would no longer face charges for bringing guns into establishments under the current signage law.

Elizabeth Stroeker, the Department of Safety’s legislative affairs director, expressed concerns about the clarity of existing posting requirements in the state, emphasizing that the proposed legislation could potentially place state employees or business owners in challenging situations. She remarked, “We do not want to put people in a position to see someone with a firearm and approach that person and ask them to leave, or wait for law enforcement to get there to handle the situation.”

Proponents of the bill contended that it would afford broader protection to gun rights. Sen. Brent Taylor, R-Memphis, suggested that businesses assuming liability by prohibiting guns could face legal challenges, likening the prohibition of guns to the prohibition of inhalers and suggesting that businesses could be held liable if a customer experienced an asthma attack without access to an inhaler or fell victim to a violent crime without a firearm. Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, questioned whether it was safer for individuals to leave their guns in cars, vulnerable to theft, or to carry them.

Earlier in the month, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce voiced opposition to the legislation, warning it could infringe on property rights. They contended that while sponsors portrayed the bill as expanding gun owner rights, it would actually permit licensed gun owners to carry firearms into establishments and hinder businesses from safely restricting the proliferation of guns on their properties.

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