Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

From The Tennessean:

Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals released a statement saying the law allows jurisdictions to gain more control.

“This bill also leaves to local governments the ultimate decision of whether to prohibit firearms in local government buildings, and the new provisions in this bill give local governments and their permittees more control over security at large entertainment venues,” the statement said.

Licensed health and mental health facilities, buildings with law enforcement and judicial proceedings and Head Start centers are also exempt from the additional security requirements.

The new bill follows the guns-in-parks law, approved in 2015, which prevented local governments from banning people with handgun permits from carrying their weapons in a park.

… Haslam said prior to the bill’s passage that his office worked to make the legislation “more pleasing to local governments.”

But Nashville Mayor Megan Barry sent Haslam a letter on May 11 asking the governor to veto the legislation, saying the bill would “negatively impact local governments such as Nashville.”

“Our concern is for the safety of our traveling public, a large percentage of which are school age children,” Barry, a Democrat, wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Associated Press.

“In addition, we are concerned about provisions that would allow for the tripling of a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees for those challenging local government actions, as this may encourage frivolous lawsuits with the promise of a larger payout for attorneys,” Barry wrote.

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