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Tennessee passes bill to let teachers carry guns at school

April 24, 2024

The move comes a year after three children and three staff were killed in a school shooting in Nashville. The bill will now be sent to Republican Governor Bill Lee for consideration.

Protesters in the Tennessee House of Representatives on April 23, 2024
Protesters shouted 'Blood on your hands' as the bill passed in Tennessee's state legislatureImage: George Walker IV/AP/picture alliance

Lawmakers in the US state of Tennessee passed a law on Tuesday that would allow teachers to carry concealed guns in schools.

The bill passed 68-28 vote in Tennessee's Republican-dominated legislature, as protesters shouted from the visitors gallery, "Blood on your hands." 

It will now be sent for consideration by Governor Bill Lee, a Republican.

"What you're doing is you're creating a deterrent," said Republican State Representative Ryan Williams, who sponsored the bill. "Across our state, we have had challenges as it relates to shootings."

All Democrats plus four Republicans voted against the proposal.

"My Republican colleagues continue to hold our state hostage, hold our state at gunpoint to appeal to their donors in the gun industry," said Democratic State Representative Justin Jones. "It is morally insane."

Nashville school shooter was former student

What does the bill allow?

The law would require any person wishing to carry a concealed handgun inside a school to complete at least 40 hours of training in school policing, as well as an additional 40 hours of training per year.

School leaders must give approval for an individual to carry a gun, and local law enforcement must be informed of the person's identity.

About half of all states in the US allow teachers or other school staff to carry firearms on school grounds, according to the Giffords Law Center, a gun safety group.

School shootings have becoming increasingly common tragedy in recent years. The Tennessee bill comes a little more than a year after an assailant shot dead three children and three staff at a Nashville elementary school.

zc/fb (AP, Reuters, AFP)