Measure to allow guns in parking lots draws mixed support

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Right now, if you have a handgun carry permit, it's up to your employer whether you can keep it locked in your car while you're working. But some lawmakers and community members want to change that.

"The car is our property. And I think we ought to be able to have the weapons locked up in our vehicles. As long as we've performed due diligence to lock up that weapon," said David Choate, who supports the measure.

Trevor Putnam works at Coal Creek Armory and said people with carry permits are among the most law-abiding groups around - they've passed state and federal background checks, along with the training and licensing required to get their permits.

"Nobody's employer is going to guarrantee your safety from your front door to work or back," said Putnam.

He said as long as you have a permit, and keep your gun in a lockbox in your car, there shouldn't be a problem. But not everyone agrees. Jessie Brewer works at Zhu Garden Chinese Restaurant:

"I believe that as long as it's discussed pre-employment, then the business should be able to decide, 'Yes, as an employee of our business, you should not be able to have your weapon on you or on the premises,'" said Brewer.

Governor Bill Haslam said excluding college campuses is key to an agreement on guns in parking lots, but Putnam and other gun owners disagree. They said workers should be able to protect themselves during their commute, whether or not they work on campus.

Pellissippi State said it agrees with it's governing body, the Tennessee Board of Regents, which said it hasn't historically supported guns on campus because of safety concerns. In a statement, the board said it hasn't seen anything relating to this specific legislation, it can't comment further.

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