Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he is allowing the guns-on-campus bill to become law without his signature.

The bill, Senate Bill 2376, allows full-time faculty, staff and other employees of Tennessee's public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to carry their guns on campus -- but they must notify the local law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for security on their campus -- the campus police, for example.

The governor said in a letter to the House and Senate speaker that he prefers to let campuses make their own decision.

“I am letting SB 2376 become law without my signature. I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year," he said in a statement. 
"Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns."

“Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations, it provides protection from liability for the institutions, and it requires notification of law enforcement before carrying on campus. I hope that as a state we will monitor the impact of this new law and listen to the feedback of higher education leaders responsible for operationalizing it.”

The legislation was widely considered one of a handful of bills Haslam was considering vetoing since the legislature adjourned on April 22.

Proponents of the measure argued the legislation is necessary in order to provide additional safety on college campuses. Opponents, including police chiefs, students and a significant number of faculty members at the University of Tennessee, said the legislation would not actually make the campus safer and would complicate how law enforcement handle active shooter incidents.

Any employee interested in carrying a weapon on campus would be required to notify the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the property and would face some limitations as to where they can carry a gun, which would have to be concealed. Valid permit holders could not bring a weapon into a stadium or gymnasium during school-sponsored events or in meetings regarding discipline or tenure.

The measure does not allow students to carry weapons on campus.

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