NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Handgun carry permit holders will soon be allowed to bring firearms into Legislative Plaza, according to Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.
Ramsey said the new policy would take effect in a matter of days.
On Thursday morning, he told a group of reporters that he and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell had decided to remove the signs prohibiting guns in Legislative Plaza.
When asked if he could make the decision without a change in law, he responded, “Yes. It’s up to Beth and I.”
Ramsey said the decision was a matter of “policy” and not subject to state law.
He said guns would continue be banned in the Capitol building, and any changes with regard to the Capitol would need to come from the Governor.
Ramsey also told News 2 discussions about allowing guns at Legislative Plaza began months ago.
“It starts back to about November, when Beth actually called me and said, ‘What do you think about taking these signs down?’ I said, ‘I’ve been for [taking the signs down] all along. Let’s start working through this.’”
Ramsey said they were planning to remove the signs prohibiting firearms as early as the second week in January, but the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which handles security in the building, asked for time to review the new policy.
Ramsey said the THP needed to work out the logistics of allowing guns in the building.
When asked if he thought the building would be safer, Ramsey replied, “It’s a proven statistic, undisputable [sic], that if gun carry permit holders are allowed into a facility, it is safer, not less safe.”
Ramsey expected to get an update from the THP on Thursday. He said the new policy would be implemented in no more than one to two weeks.
The Tennessee Safe Project released a statement Thursday saying they believe allowing guns inside the Legislative Plaza “will pose an unnecessary risk to legislators, staff and members of the public.
“Contrary to the myths we hear at legislative plaza, allowing more guns where they were previously prohibited will only increase the likelihood of unintentional shootings,” said Beth Joslin Roth, executive director of the Safe Tennessee Project. “That’s why the Tennessee Highway Patrol has repeatedly opposed these efforts, and will likely still oppose guns in the Capitol.”