Tennessee Governor Bill Lee plans to sign a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in schools

Government of Tennessee Bill Lee said Thursday he planned to sign a bill that state lawmakers sent to his desk this week that would allow school employees to carry concealed handguns on school grounds.

“What’s important to me is that we give districts tools and the ability to use a tool that keeps their children safe in their schools,” Lee said at a news conference Thursday after sharing his plans to sign the legislation .

Under state law, Lee, a Republican, has the ability to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

The Republican-controlled state House approved the measure largely along party lines on Tuesday, about a year after a gunman opened fire and killed six people at The Covenant School in Nashville. The Senate, which is also controlled by the Republican Party, passed the measure this month.

Lee on Thursday highlighted the legislation’s requirements that teachers and staff who wish to carry concealed handguns on school grounds must complete a minimum of 40 hours of approved training specifically for school police each year. They must also obtain written permission from law enforcement, he noted.

“There are people in the state who disagree about the path forward,” Lee said Thursday, adding that he thought the legislation would give school districts the opportunity to decide at the local level what is best for the schools and the children in that district. .”

But the measure drew criticism from Democrats such as state Rep. Bo Mitchell, who referenced the Covenant shooting in remarks in the House of Representatives.

“This is what we’re going to do. This is our response to the murder of teachers and children at a school. Our response is to throw more weapons at it. What’s wrong with us?” Mitchell said.

Tennessee isn’t the only state to pass legislation allowing teachers to carry guns. According to the Giffords Law Center, a gun violence prevention group, at least 26 states have laws that allow teachers and other school employees to possess guns on school property, with some exceptions.

CORRECTION (April 25, 2025, 10:31 PM ET): An earlier version of this article was misstated when Mitchell made his comments on the House floor. He made them on Tuesday, not Wednesday.

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