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Mt. Juliet BOC discusses allowing city employees to carry firearms

At the Mt. Juliet city commission meeting Monday night, the board of commissioners discussed amending the Mt. Juliet personnel manual to allow city employees, if they have permits, to carry firearms at work.

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles sponsored the ordinance, which originally passed first reading in 2013. Giles said that since the first reading over six years ago, and with the amount of violence that takes place around the country, he feels it is important for city employees to have the right to protect themselves at work by carrying firearms if they have a permit to do so. By allowing this, the city is not asking employees to protect others but allowing them to protect themselves.

Giles also proposed an amendment to delete the wording in the manual that currently states an employee carrying a firearm should tell human resources, who then keeps the information on file. According to Giles, the change would eliminate that employee’s assumed responsibility for protecting anyone other than his or herself. The amendment was passed unanimously.

District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice had concerns about the city’s liability in the case of an employee discharging their weapon. He also worried that it could be assumed that the employee was “acting under the color of law” and that the city would be deputizing the employee, whether intentional or not.

Vice Mayor James Maness emphasized that if the ordinance passed, the city is not requiring its employees to carry firearms, instead it is allowing those with permits to carry if they want to. He also said, however, that the board should have a workshop session to discuss it further.

Mayor Ed Hagerty suggested waiting on voting in order to get answers to some questions that had been raised during the meeting and made a motion to defer.

After much discussion, the ordinance was deferred one meeting. The next city commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at City Hall. A public hearing will be held before the meeting at 6:15 p.m.

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