The results of a joint study conducted by the University of Groningen and the University of Maryland were published on Thursday in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. For the first time, researchers have developed a psychological process model for defensive gun ownership, which considers both the reasoning and the consequences of owning a gun for protection and self-defense. Researchers found the motivation to own a handgun was about fear of crime but also about a more general sense of threat from “the belief that the world is an unpredictable and dangerous place and that society is at the brink of collapse.”
The Town of Farragut prohibits guns inside Town Hall, but that could change.
The Board of Aldermen agreed at its July 27 board meeting to poll city employees on whether the city should remove the sign on its exterior doors that bans guns inside Town Hall.
The poll, which has not yet been sent, is to include questions about whether employees would feel comfortable if the town purchased ballistic plates designed to protect against gunfire in certain areas, similar to those used at bank counters.
The discussion is in reaction to a recently passed state law requiring municipalities to allow residents with handgun permits to bring firearms into public buildings or to provide metal detectors or guards with security wands in public buildings that ban firearms.
The new law doesn’t require Farragut to change policies since it holds court once a month and the state law gives exception to those facilities, but aldermen have taken the chance to revisit the town’s policy.
Cities and counties across the state have dealt with the new law in different ways. But for smaller, cash-strapped communities, the choice is difficult.
For Farragut aldermen, the argument is one of safety and dollars.
The new law was praised by gun advocates and disputed by major metro mayors like Knoxville’s Madeline Rogero, but it passed easily in the legislature.
There are loopholes. For instance, buildings that hold court proceedings, even just one day a month like Farragut’s Town Hall, are exempt and can still ban firearms. Other buildings, like mental health facilities and libraries, are also exempt.
Many cities’ buildings, like the shared City County Building in Knoxville, already have metal detectors and armed guards. Even smaller communities, like Maryville, have a large portion of their operations in one building that already has security and the new law hardly makes an impact.
Most cities have decided to quietly remove signs and allow firearms or to invest in the required security measures.
Farragut’s measure is a bit of an outlier, but so is its tax structure.
Currently, the town of Farragut bans firearms from Town Hall by way of a sign outside the door.
The new law does not require the town to either take down the sign or add metal detectors and security, but the city will likely vote to remove the firearms ban.
The problem, Farragut Town Attorney Tom Hale said, is the city wants to be safe, but also doesn’t have a lot of dollars lying around.
“We’re a town that doesn’t have a property tax and we operate on a very tight budget,” Hale said. “Hiring security guards at the front and back doors and to have metal detectors would be a pretty (expensive) solution.”
At the July 27 meeting, Alderman Bob Markli suggested that fellow aldermen think long and hard about how the town should proceed.
He said the town should remove the ban and allow people to bring their firearms in except during court proceedings, when they would be illegal. He said signs banning firearms don’t work anyway.
“Criminals are always going to disregard them,” he said. “Law-abiding citizens are going to obey them and will thus put themselves in a vulnerable situation. It has almost been without exception that posted gun-free zones is where mass shootings occur.
“My feeling is, and I feel very strongly about this, that if you intend for me to surrender my innate, God-given, constitutionally protected, state-approved and duly licensed ability to defend myself in the best way that I see fit for myself, then you darn well better be prepared to provide for my defense in some other way.”
The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee contacted Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill’s office, but spokesman Wendy Smith declined to grant an interview.
Aldermen Ron Williams and Louise Povlin spoke to the topic at the July 27 meeting but declined to comment on an ongoing topic of discussion.
A recording of the meeting showed Povlin said she didn’t disagree with Markli’s points. She said she generally feels safe during Town Hall meetings because there usually is a Knox County deputy in attendance. But she said not every meeting has a deputy.
“I feel comfortable (in meetings in Town Hall with an officer present), but I’ll tell you, the MPC (Knoxville-Knox County Metro Planning Commission) meetings is when it gets heated,” she said as colleagues chuckled. “It doesn’t tend to get ugly here, but … .”
Williams agreed and said the city should look into purchasing level three ballistic plates, at minimum. He said that would deter a handgun.
“There may be meetings where there’s not a person who has a carry permit,” he said. “And if you did have a ballistic plate in these areas at least you would have some amount of shelter from someone who got overzealous and (decided) they wanted to shoot.”
What other municipalities decided
Knoxville: Allows carry permits on buses and in some public buildings. Not all places had signs previously prohibiting them.
- Some buildings, like the City County Building, already prohibit firearms due to court proceedings and have armed guards already in place.
- At public assembly buildings, like the Knoxville Convention Center, there will be additional security, including metal detectors and bag checks with wanded security, at certain events, which had previously been happening.
Maryville: Allows concealed carry in few places
- Took down sign banning firearms from two fire stations and an operations building.
Blount County: Allows concealed carry in some buildings, but not the county’s Justice Center, where there are court proceedings and metal detectors and guards.
- Removed signs from other county buildings, allowing firearms in them.
- The Blount County Courthouse has guards but no metal detectors, so the sign was removed.