On April 24, 2024, the Tennessee House passed Senate Bill 135, authorizing trained teachers and staff to carry firearms on school grounds. According to the bill, the director of schools, school principal, and chief of the local law enforcement agency for the school district each must sign off on the teacher’s or staff member’s authority to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds. The teacher or staff member authorized to carry on school grounds must also possess a state issued handgun carry permit, cannot be prohibited from carrying a handgun pursuant to federal or state law, and would also be required to complete “a minimum of forty (40) hours of training specific to school policing that has been approved by the peace officer standards and training (POST) commission each year to retain the authorization.” The bill does not require any school to authorize concealed carry by teachers or staff on school grounds, but requires that school district directors and principals consider the application of any teacher or staff member who applies for authorization to carry at the school.      

The passage of Senate Bill 135 follows last years’ tragic shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Proponents of the bill argue that armed and trained teachers and staff will increase school security and act as a deterrence to potential security threats. If Senate Bill 135 is passed into law, Tennessee will join a growing number of states that have passed similar legislation permitting teachers and staff to carry firearms on school grounds. For example, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Mississippi, and South Dakota have passed laws authorizing teachers and certain school employees to carry firearms on campus, if they are designated part of a school guardian program. Also, Iowa recently enacted legislation, House File 2586, which permits school staff to obtain a permit to carry firearms at school. Senate Bill 135 had been previously passed by the Senate and has been sent to Governor Bill Lee to either sign into law or veto.  He has ten days to sign or veto it, or it will go into law without his signature. It is anticipated that he will sign the bill into law. If not, it would be the first time he vetoed proposed legislation. The legislature can override a veto with a simple majority vote in each chamber. SB 135 would be effective immediately upon enactment.

Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor new firearm legislation across the United States. If you have any questions about new firearm legislation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.