This week, HB508 is up for a vote in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday. HB508 by Lamberth would prohibit local governments from prohibiting or restricting guns on state or local property unless the property installs metal detection devices and hires security guards. If the property does not install metal detection devices and hire security guards, the bill would allow an individual or a membership organization (i.e. the National Rifle Association and their legal team) to sue the city for TRIPLE damages and legal fees.

In addition to the way this bill seeks to FORCE cities into allowing firearms on state and local properties, implementing it could cost the state millions of dollars.  According to the bills fiscal note, implementing this bill would increase local expenditures in excess of a $200,000 one-time/permissive cost and would exceeds a $1,000,000 PER YEAR/permissive cost. ALSO, passage of the bill could put the Departments of Education and Children’s Services out of compliance with federal regulations. The amount and timing of federal funding that could be jeopardized is unknown. Annual federal funding for both departments total approximately $436,179,800.

This means that it will cost cities up to $200,000 to obtain and install metal detection devices in all affected properties AND would cost $1,000,000 PER YEAR to hire and pay security personnel to these properties.  The bill sponsor notes that these costs are PERMISSIVE, meaning that a city can choose not to comply.  BUT, if they choose not to comply, the bill would allow for an affected party – either and individual OR a “membership group”  to sue the city and if the affected party wins, they would be required to pay TRIPLE damages to the individual/group who brought the lawsuit.

So, this leaves cities with these options:

  • Spend money to purchase metal detectors and hire private security guards
  • Choose to continue to prohibit guns without spending money on metal detectors and security guards, knowing that law enforcement could no longer be asked to remove a person with a gun AND knowing that they could be sued by the NRA and risk having to pay triple damages to them if they lose.
  • Allow guns on their property

This appears to be a clear attempt to make it cost-prohibitive for cities and local governments to keep guns out of certain city-owned venues and once strip cities of the right to decide for themselves what’s in the best interest of their citizens.

After the guns in parks bills was passed in 2015, the state Attorney General opined that city and county governments and third-party contractors who run events like concerts and festivals in public parks cannot ban handgun-carry permit holders from carrying guns into those events. Professional sports teams and concerts prohibit guns for obvious reasons and already require metal detection and security and have the money allocated to cover this expense. This bill was also written to accommodate them and keep them from canceling contacts.   However, it does not allow cities to decide what’s best for their own citizens nor does it address the excessive costs that cities would be required to cover.

The decision about where gun should and should not be allowed should be left to LOCAL authorities.  Forcing cities to either allow guns on public property or choose between spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on metal detection devices and security personnel or face the threat of costly lawsuits is wrong.  When it comes to public safety, cities know best what keeps their citizen safe. Decisions such as these should be made by mayors, city councils, and local law enforcement.

Please contact members of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and urge them to VOTE NO on HB508.

Rep. Charles Sargent
Phone: (615) 741-6808

Rep. Kevin Brooks
Phone: (615) 741-1350


Rep. David Byrd
Phone: (615) 741-2190

Rep. Karen D. Camper
Phone: (615) 741-1898

Rep. Mike Carter
Phone: (615) 741-3025

Rep. Jim Coley
Phone: (615) 741-8201

Rep. John Crawford
Phone (615) 741-7623

Rep. John DeBerry, Jr.
Phone: (615) 741-2239

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh
Phone: (615) 741-2134

Rep. Brenda Gilmore
Phone: (615) 741-1997

Rep. David Hawk
Phone (615) 741-7482

Rep. Patsy Hazelwood
Phone: (615) 741-2746

Rep. Gary Hicks
Phone (615) 741-7480

Rep. Matthew Hill
Phone (615) 741-2251

Rep. Curtis Johnson
Phone: (615) 741-4341

Rep. Harold Love, Jr.
Phone: (615) 741-3831

Rep. Susan Lynn
Phone: (615) 741-7462

Rep. Gerald McCormick

Phone: (615) 741-2548

Rep. Steve McDaniel
Phone: (615) 741-0750

Rep. Larry J. Miller
Phone: (615) 741-4453

Rep. Art Swann
Phone (615) 741-5481

Rep. Ryan Williams
Phone: (615) 741-1875

Rep. Tim Wirgau
Phone: (615) 741-6804