Attorney General: 'Guns-in-lots' doesn't affect employment law

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 4:25pm

A Tennessee employer could fire a worker who violates company policy by storing firearms and ammunition in vehicles parked on employers' property despite a new state law, according to a state attorney general's opinion.

Gov. Bill Haslam in March signed the measure that would allow people with handgun carry permits to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked.

The signing took place despite questions about whether the legislation affects employment law in Tennessee because the measure would allow workers to store guns in their cars while parked in their employers' parking lots.

At the time, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville and four fellow Republican co-sponsors submitted a letter for inclusion into the Senate Journal elaborating on their legislative intent for the measure.

While the letter stated the bill does not seek to alter the state's "employment-at-will doctrine," it noted that businesses could run into trouble if they seek to enforce a gun ban on their property.

"Employers who terminate employees just for exercising this right may violate the state's clear public policy that handgun carry permit holders are allowed to transport and store firearms or ammunition," the sponsors wrote.

That analysis appeared to conflict with statements by the main House sponsor who stressed in committee and during floor debate that the bill wouldn't affect employers' abilities to fire anyone.

In his opinion this week, Attorney General Robert Cooper wrote that the law "only decriminalizes the carrying and storage of firearms and firearm ammunition" but "has no impact on the employment relations between an employer and an employee."

Ramsey issued a statement saying the opinion "ignores the clear legislative intent of the law."

"The General Assembly created a clear statutory right allowing permit holders to lawfully keep a firearm stored in their car while at work," he said.

"Any employer explicitly terminating a permit holder for keeping a gun locked in his car would violate the state's clear public policy, opening himself or herself up to legal action. The attorney general is entitled to his opinion but it does not change the General Assembly's intent or the law."

The legislation was approved 28-5 in the Senate and 72-22 in the House. It's scheduled to take effect July 1.

17 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 5/30/13 at 4:01

Let's the Coonskin Cap state, the right to fire is sacrosanct, unless the firing offense is gun-related?

They should have filmed, Deliverance, in Tennessee.

By: Loner on 5/30/13 at 4:15

Allowing guns and ammo in the trunks of cars in employee parking lots will eliminate the cooling off period for disgruntled and fired employees...they won't have to go home to get their guns and then return to the workplace before beginning their rampages....they can now take their revenge almost immediately.....more innocent blood will be shed on the altar of the Second Amendment....this is one of the stupidest laws on the books anywhere.

By: Jazzpa on 5/30/13 at 6:06

The really stupid part of this, now criminals will have a new location to go and steal a gun. Just go to any business parking lot and look for the NRA stickers, you will most likely find one in the trunk.

By: Badbob on 5/30/13 at 6:16

LOL Loner, it is absolutely crazy isn't it? The only protected act of an employee under Tennessee law is bringing a loaded weapon on the premise. What a sick view of the world.

By: Rocket99 on 5/30/13 at 6:56

Mr. Ramsey must truly not understand the laws in this state, even the ones he votes on. Tennessee is a right to work state. Except for discrimination, an employee may be terminated at any time. Most smart employers most likely would not list the reason for termination as someone having firearms in their car.

Maybe one of Mr. Ramsey's employees will bring their gun to work and then chase him around the parking lot with it. Not shoot at him, just chase him.

By: BenDover on 5/30/13 at 7:48

Workplace rules against keeping your weapons secured in your car are effectively just another gun ban for law/rule abiding citizens.

By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 5/30/13 at 7:50

Some of these comments from obviously uninformed nincompoops are amusing. The statistics on the improper or illegal use of firearms by law enforcement folks show them to be exponentially more dangerous than legally armed citizens. Anyone who consents to a search of their vehicle without a warrant is making a big mistake.

By: grid on 5/30/13 at 8:12

I'd like to give my 2 cents worth on this, as I work in law enforcement. My personal opinion is that if you have a handgun carry permit, you should be able to carry your weapon anywhere it is legal (including locked in your car at work). But as Jazzpa mentioned, you may have your weapon stolen if your car is buglarized.

Now, if your employer says "no weapons on my premises", you can either say "ok", or challenge your employer for your right to carry. As with most things, it is up to the individual to decide & assume the consequences of his/her decision.

By: GUARDIAN on 5/30/13 at 10:05

All businesses that are ANTI-SECOND AMENDMENT should ad that to their logo so We the People will know who to stop doing business with...GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Loner on 5/30/13 at 12:02

Allowing employees to keep guns on company property, while on the clock, sounds like a disincentive to locate a start-up business in's an incentive for existing corporations to pull up stakes.

Why locate a business in a state in which many of the employees are armed and potentially dangerous? Revenge is out in the parking lot.

By: Loner on 5/30/13 at 12:06

Guardian is onto something? Corporations that support the NRA should advertise that fact...those who favor reasonable legislation to protect the public from gunmen should advertise that fact too.

Let the free market place or boycott....let there be feedback from the masses.

By: pswindle on 5/31/13 at 7:49

We are a right to work state. The workers in TN gave away their soul when Haslam got this law through. The Unions made sure that the workers had a good environment to work in and that included safety, and fair practice for all, and most of all some security in the workplace. Haslam wanted this changed because of his businesses, and you can see where that has gotten him. One can work for a place twenty years and getting close to retirement, and you can be fired on the spot without a reason. It is beyond me why the GOP will vote against their long term interest. If this continues, we are going to have the poorest group of older people that will live in poverty beyond belief. If the GOP has their way and put #SS in vouchers, we will see beggars and homeless at a height that we have not seen since before reconstruction. Have you not wondered why businesses fight unions with everything that they have? Nissan is a good example, why are they afraid of unions? This gun issue is just the NRA taking over the minds and hearts of the misinformed.

By: Libertine on 6/1/13 at 1:56

WTH are you taking about swindle? Tennessee was a right to work state before Haslam considered running for 2nd grade hall monitor. That is why Nissan located here in the 80's bringing tens of thousands of good paying jobs. Loner, you couldn't be further from the truth. Middle Tennessee is a hotbed for medical start-ups and you are aware that Nissan and Bridgestone relocated their headquarters here a few years ago.

The facts prove your ridiculous arguments to be false.

By: pswindle on 6/1/13 at 2:09

Oh, how wrong you are. TN at one time had many unions that helped bring the standard of living up in TN. Bridgestone or the company before had unions. Nissan does not want unions because of working and pay issues. TN can have unions if they can get their foot in the door. Nissan has been fighting unions for years in TN. The workers are scared of not having a job if they join a union. Scare! Scare! The Gov. went after the teachers because they have the least to fight with, and just with a year or two and you will see the difference that unions make in our schools. One thing the class size is already going up. Before unions, teachers had forty or more students in elementary school classrooms, no P.E., just to name a few. You have no idea what you are talking about. Why do companies fight unions, ask our Governor, he has many businesses. That was one of his goals is to have TN free of unions and a right to work state. He is almost there.

By: Libertine on 6/2/13 at 5:55

Tennessee still has many Unions swindle. Right to work just gives workers a choice of joining the union, it doesn't outlaw unions. America is all about choice is it not? It is very surprising to me that the left is all about taking away the worker's right to choose in the workplace.

As evidence of what a bad policy closed shop laws are Michigan and Indiana voted to become right to work states last year. It is good economic policy and good for the worker.

By: pswindle on 6/2/13 at 10:07

Why do only GOP Governors push for right to work state? It hurts the workers. Do your research. When did the workers start having money for the good life? Unions Teachers and students will hurt for the damage that has been done to the teacher's unions. What are you talking about, if some workers join a union that will be fired? This is free choice.

By: Jack Perconte on 6/13/13 at 11:27

There are many roles that are hired when new Chief professional of the U. s. Declares is elected into office. These hired roles make up a governmental advisory panel known as the Cupboard. The Lawyer Common is one of these roles and offers with implementing the law for the professional division of the govt and is a place termed as "the top cop."
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