NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A bill to allow local school districts in Tennessee to decide if personnel can carry firearms on campus cleared its first hurdle in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee Wednesday.

House Bill 1751, as amended, would give school systems in distressed rural counties the ability to allow certain staff and volunteers to carry guns at school and school-sponsored activities, like athletic events.

Rep. David Byrd (R – Waynesboro) sponsored the legislation.

He said his home of Wayne County can’t afford to pay for school resource officers (SRO).

For Byrd, it’s a matter of security.

“They asked me to run it because we haven’t had any SROs there for almost ten years now,” said Byrd.

The legislation requires those selected to be armed on campus to have a valid handgun carry permit and must complete “40 hours of firearms training specific to school policing that has been approved by the peace officer standards and training commission.”

An attorney for the TSSAA expressed concern about letting non-law enforcement personnel carry firearms at athletic events.

“Our concern is with expansion of the scope of who may be in possession of guns at school events, like the events we sponsor, high school athletic events,” said TSSAA attorney Rick Colbert.

HB 1751 cleared the subcommittee and will go before the House Civil Justice Committee next week.