State Senate gives final approval to legislation clarifying inmate coordinators have right to carry firearm

Contact:  Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email:  [email protected]

 (NASHVILLE, TN), March 2, 2010 — The State Senate has given final approval to legislation sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) to give inmate relations coordinators the same gun carrying privileges as correctional and certain other law enforcement officers have under Tennessee law.  The bill came to the legislature after the Attorney General issued an opinion that inmate relations coordinators were not covered under the same law that provides the right to carry firearms to these officers.

“This problem was brought to my attention by inmate relations coordinators in Morgan County,” said Senator Yager.  “They receive the same firearms training as correctional officers, but due to an ambiguity in the law, they do not have the same priveleges to carry.”

Present law authorizes a vested correctional officer to carry firearms at all times and in all places within Tennessee, on-duty or off-duty, regardless of the officer’s regular duty hours or assignments, with certain exceptions. The legislation would extend this privilege to inmate relations coordinators employed by the Department of Corrections. This applies only if they obtain an identification card from the secretary of state that certifies that the officer is allowed to carry a firearm. The correctional officer must carry this card at all times while carrying a firearm.

“These officers are not allowed to carry even though they face the same kind of dangers as the other officers who have these privileges,” added Yager.  “I am very pleased the General Assembly has approved this measure.”

The bill now goes to the governor for his signature before becoming law.

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