This state could be next to pull the trigger on campus carry

Students in Tennessee may soon be able to conceal carry on campus if a bill that has already been introduced in the state legislature passes.

The bill was put forth in the house by Tennessee State Rep. Rush Bricken and in the senate by state Sen. Janice Bowling. It seeks to allow students with the requisite permit to conceal carry “on property owned, operated, or controlled by the public institution of higher education at which the student is registered.” 

The bill stipulates that students who carry must be “otherwise in compliance with state law.” 

In Tennessee, this means a person must be 21 years of age, have completed the mandatory permit to carry class, and paid a fee-- among other things, according to the U.S. Conceal Carry Association (USCCA).

The proposed legislation received its first reading before the Tennessee House earlier this week and was introduced and passed on first consideration in the state Senate. 

If signed into law, this measure would take effect on July 1 and only apply to state schools.

[RELATED: Fla. lawmaker wants to pull the trigger on campus carry. Guess who tries to shoot it down.]

Campus Reform spoke with professor Andrew Donadio of Tennessee Tech University about this matter.

Donadio, a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander, current Putnam County Commissioner and the treasurer of the Putnam County Republican Party, fully supports allowing students to carry on campus.

On the topic of passing Bricken and Bowling’s legislation, Donadilo says “it doesn’t make sense not to.”

“I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment, of people who should be carrying,” he said. “People who have a permit should be allowed to carry because people who are going to do something bad will not be stopped by a sign” which designates an area as gun-free.

“A sign doesn’t stop a person from carrying who’s going to do something bad. A sign stops people who are law-abiding from carrying a firearm. If the worst were to happen, I would hope that… somebody who I know and trust who is a law-abiding citizen could happen to have a firearm in that situation.”

“I love my police and I love my campus security… [but] when seconds count, security is only minutes away,” he added.

[RELATED: Texas campus carry ‘non-issue’ after first semester]

Donadio also stated that his views do “not reflect the views of the university, staff, [or] management… “This is my opinion as a citizen and county commissioner,” he said.

He also specified that he supports amending the law to allow students to carry and is not challenging current school policy. He said he “does not support people breaking any law or rule that exists currently,” and is “speaking to the legislation, not to the rules of the University.”

Campus Reform also spoke with Caleb Dean, a senior at Tennessee Tech University who leads his school’s College Republicans chapter. 

“This is something that I’m really surprised hasn’t been introduced in Tennessee yet,” he said, commenting on the bill. “Considering how red Tennessee is, it’s surprising to me all the restrictions they do have on firearms.”

He also explained that many of the students he knows will carry on campus if legally allowed.

Dean also expressed his belief that allowing students to be legally armed on campus will do more for safety than simply declaring university property gun-free.

No guns allowed “signs aren’t going to stop someone that’s going to commit a crime,” he said. “Those [gun free zone] laws actually hurt us more than they help us because the criminals aren’t going to follow them.”

Presently, about 10 percent of Tennessee residents hold a valid permit to carry, according to the USCCA.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleHooten2