A Tennessee law allowing anyone with a handgun permit to keep their firearm in their car no matter where they park the vehicle takes effect this week.
A gun out of plain sight can now be left in a vehicle in a private or public parking lot. However, the measure is unclear about whether that means employees can bring their guns to work and leave them in their vehicle in a parking lot or if employers are within their rights to ban guns.
“The question that we don’t have an answer to is whether or not an employer can discipline someone for bringing into that employer’s employee parking area,” said Memphis employment and labor attorney Paul Prather to WREG. “The state attorney general has said the employer has all the rights they had before. But Lt. Governor Ramsey who was one of the sponsors in the senate wrote a letter that says no, employees would be protected because it’s public policy.”
That would mean if an employer fires an employee for bringing a gun into their parking lot, the employee could later sue for wrongful termination.
Prather said that ultimately a judge, possibly the Tennessee Supreme Court, will make the final decision. Until then it is unclear what the "guns in trunks" measure really means for employers.
The law itself has some Tennessee residents uneasy. Jodi Green of Oakland told WREG that the safety of guns in cars is a concern for her.
“What if you ... cut somebody off and they just pull a gun out?" Green said. "I mean, there’s crazy people out there.”
Jennifer Gilmer said theft was her biggest concern about guns being kept in vehicles.
“If leaving something like that in your car, obviously you don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands,” Gilmer said.
“The critical thing is if you’re a permit holder, it must be your car can’t be someone else’s car and can’t be a rental car," Prather said. "It must be out of plain sight if you’re in the car and locked in a container if you are in the car."