Tennessee’s “guns-in-trunks” law is constitutional and enforceable, according to a recent opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.
In 2013, the Tennessee legislature passed and Governor Bill Haslam signed a law, often referred to as “gun-in-trunks,” that required employers to allow their employees with handgun carry permits to bring their firearms onto company property, so long as the employee kept their gun locked inside their vehicle out of “ordinary observation.” The law, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1313, went into effect July 1, 2013.
Now, more than a year after its effective date, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has released a September 18, 2014 opinion that “guns-in-trunks” is NOT “unconstitutionally vague so as to render it unenforceable.” The opinion, written by former AG Bob Cooper, states
“[Guns-In-Trunks] defines the exception to firearms offenses with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is not prohibited and thus know how to avoid that which is forbidden.”
The Tennessee Supreme Court recently replaced Cooper with Herbert H. Slattery, who was sworn in October 1, 2014.
Although attorney general opinions are non-binding on Tennessee courts, the opinion provides further support for the somewhat controversial law. No Tennessee appellate court has analyzed the new “guns-in-trunks” law yet, and so it is uncertain how the Tennessee Court of Appeals or the Tennessee Supreme Court would construe the statute. In the meantime, Tennessee employers must ensure their employee handbooks and policies comply with the “guns-in-trunk” statute.