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Guns allowed in General Assembly

By Andy Sher • Updated Nov 2, 2017 at 11:00 AM

NASHVILLE (TNS) – Tennessee handgun-carry permit holders will be allowed to bring their firearms into the General Assembly’s new home, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Senate speaker, and House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Wednesday.

The speakers, both Republicans, said in a joint statement that state-issued permit holders “are among the most law-abiding demographics in our state.”

In order to obtain a state permit, the speakers said, a citizen “must be fingerprinted, submit to a background check and receive firearm training.”

The announcement comes as the General Assembly begins relocating to the renovated Cordell Hull Building.

For decades, senators, representatives and their staff have been housed in Legislative Plaza and the War Memorial Building.

Those buildings are under the control of the executive branch. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration refused to allow permit holders to carry firearms, despite Harwell and the Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s efforts to change the policy.

The Haslam administration cited security concerns in the building, which is linked by tunnel to the actual state Capitol.

Cordell Hull is linked to the Capitol as well, but the General Assembly has complete control of Cordell Hull.

According to McNally and Harwell, permit holders wanting to carry their guns into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security.

A “thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit,” the speakers said in a news release.

Once a permit holder’s legal authority to armed publicly is established he or she “will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment right while visiting their state government,” the speakers said.

It was not immediately clear whether permit holders will be able to take their weapons into the actual Capitol.

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