NASHVILLE (Reuters) - A bill that allows gun owners to keep their guns in their vehicles at their workplaces sailed through the state Senate and is expected to face little resistance when the House starts reviewing it on Wednesday, its sponsor said on Tuesday.
“I fully expect to see passage of this bill in its current form,” said Rep. Jeremy Faison, a Republican.
The bill passed 28-5 on the Senate floor Monday night, with all 26 members of the Republican majority as well as two of the seven Senate Democrats supporting it. The Republican-controlled House’s civil justice subcommittee will consider the bill Wednesday.
The bill is opposed by business leaders, and failed to pass last year.
It is one of several pro-gun laws proposed in some states since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting last December, in which a lone gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school.
The massacre renewed gun debate on both sides -- with President Barack Obama and others calling for stronger gun control, while the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates have argued that more guns are the answer to the problem of gun violence.
The governor of Arkansas signed into law on Monday a bill that allows concealed-carry permit holders to take their weapons into churches.
The Tennessee bill would allow the weapons to be on employers’ property -- as long as the weapons are locked up in the trunks or glove boxes of those who have permits to carry handguns. It was hailed by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, a Republican, as making the state a safer place to live.
“This bill ensures that private property rights are respected while gun owners are protected,” Ramsey said.
If the so-called “guns-in-trunks” bill is enacted, it will reverse current Tennessee law that makes it legal for any business or government body to prohibit possession of weapons - locked in the trunk or otherwise - on their property.
Not everyone is happy about the progress of the bill.
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Bill Ozier was quoted on Nashville’s WSMV-TV as saying that the bill could have negative impact on job growth in the Volunteer State.
“This is a subject that’s important to them, and when they decide if they are going to expand a new operation, they might look at another state that’s not as gun-friendly,” he said.
Reporting By Tim Ghianni; Editing by Mary Wisniewski; editing by Carol Bishopric