Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry Bill, Which Would Allow Eligible Citizens To Carry A Handgun Without A Permit, Is Closer To Becoming Law After Being Advanced By The General Assembly. The Senate Finance, Ways, And Means Committee Recommended The Bill For Passage On Tuesday.
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Published March 17, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry Bill, which would allow eligible citizens to carry a handgun without a permit, is closer to becoming law after being advanced by the General Assembly.
The Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee recommended the bill for passage on Tuesday.
Constitutional Carry “creates an exception to the offense of unlawful carrying of a firearm, if a person meets the qualifications for an enhanced handgun carry permit, lawfully possesses a handgun, and is in a place that the person has a right to be; revises other firearm statutes.”
The legislation, introduced by Governor Bill Lee, would apply to Tennesseans 21 and over. Members of the armed forces, including those honorably discharged, would be eligible even if under the age of 21.
The bill also comes with other restrictions, which Lee said, “would significantly increase penalties on those who steal, or unlawfully possess a firearm, including a mandatory minimum sentence for those who steal a firearm.”
The House of Representatives is currently looking at the sister bill, and it will be heard by a Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on March 17.
While the bill has been progressing, there is still opposition. Jimmy Musice, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Senior Policy Advisor, said the process of getting a permit is what allows them to screen gun owners.
Musice said, “We don’t have any issue, and support the underlying policy that those that are legally permissible to carry possess a firearm and to defend themselves. What we think, though, is that the permit process allows us to actually do that by knowing if that person is lawful.”
An associate professor of criminal justice at Northeast State Community College, Eric Stanton, said, “We have a law in this state that has been effective for the past 25 years, in assuring certain training standards are met, ensuring certain background checks are done, and stuff of that nature to assure that folks carrying a weapon should carry a weapon.”
The Tennessee Sheriff’s Association has also voiced concerns about the proposed bill.
They released an open letter that read, “While we support the enhanced penalties in the legislation of HB786, we strongly believe that completely eliminating the permit requirement will negatively impact the safety of Tennesseans and our law enforcement officer.”
Despite the opposition, state lawmakers have still been showing their support. Republican Senator Jon Lundberg said the main change would be in the form of harsher penalties.
Lundberg said, “A theft of a firearm from a misdemeanor to a felony, which also means instead of a minimum 60 days in jail, it goes to 6 months in jail. It’s a pretty solid deterrence for those who are illegally carrying.”
The senator said he feels the changed law will be able to prevent the wrong people from carrying a gun.
“There’s a good list of people, frankly, who shouldn’t be carrying. We added those stalking, those who have had multiple DUIs; driving under the influence, those who have been declared mentally incompetent. Those are the folks who shouldn’t be carrying,” Lundberg said.
He added, “It is a constitutional right to keep or carry firearms, whether it’s concealed or opened.”