"We believe that a property owner's right to provide a safe work environment trumps an individual's right to possess a firearm on the owner's property," said Maury Donahue, a spokeswoman for Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx, in an e-mail.
Reid Albert, in charge of security for Volkswagen's Chattanooga operations, told lawmakers the measure could endanger 3,300 workers who park in company lots. Dismissals and parking lot arguments might both become more dangerous if guns are allowed in cars at the workplace, he said.
"Gun violence in the workplace is a real and ever present threat," he said in testimony earlier this year. "A law which prevents an employer from addressing this situation hinders my ability to protect the lives of all employees at Volkswagen, Chattanooga."
Richard Archie, a member of the Tennessee Firearms Association, said he pushed for the law to protect his 34-year-old daughter, a schoolteacher who commutes through dangerous parts of Jackson, Tenn.
House Republican leaders killed the bill in a procedural move after the NRA didn't agree to an opt-out provision or liability protection for property owners, said Maggart, who was the only one of those leaders with a primary challenger.
The NRA ran an advertising campaign against her, calling her an enemy of the Constitution who had killed gun rights behind closed doors. Billboards and pamphlets linked her with Democratic President Obama and special interests: "Bless her heart," said one. "Debra Maggart has lost her way."
"I couldn't overcome it," she said.
With assistance from Justin Blum and William Selway in Washington.