Constitutional Carry One Step Closer To Becoming Law

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. 

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

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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.”

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6 thoughts on “Constitutional Carry One Step Closer To Becoming Law

  • March 17, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Constitutional carry is our right under the 2nd Amendment. Criminals do not obey laws anyway, so in essence, requiring a permit is just another revenue generator. If you choose to carry a gun, it’s your responsibility to know the law, and handle it properly. When crimes are committed, we often don’t have time to wait for the police to arrive, and we are therefore our own first line of defense.

  • March 17, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Tennessee should become a constitutional sanctuary state… this protects our sheriffs departments from having to enforce non constitutional federal laws .

    • March 17, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      I agree 100% that Tennessee should be a sanctuary state and follow the US Constitution as it was written.

  • March 17, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Yes Tennessee should be a constitutional carry state. It’s what our grandparents and parents died and fought for. The constitution of the United states. It really means freedom. So I’m really hoping all great representatives have the common cause to put Tennessee as a leader on this matter.

  • March 18, 2021 at 12:45 am
    This bill is NOT real constitutional carry. It has been repeatedly described by legislators as only “kicking the ball” down the field or as an incremental step. The fact that some people may be “identifying” it as constitutional carry is not much different that calling Dr. Richard Levine “Rachel” – saying it is so does not change the facts. The fact is that it is only an incremental permitless carry bill and its one that perpetuates and ads infringements on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

    Specifically, the concerns with it by those who seek REAL constitutional carry are that

    1) It does not apply to everyone who can legally possess a firearm. The Second Amendment has no age limit when it references “the people”. Falling far short of the Second Amendment’s scope, the Governor’s bill only applies to those who are at least 21.

    2) The Governor’s bill creates an exception for a class of individuals who are 18-20 years old and who are in or honorable retired from the military. Since this legislation addresses a fundamental individual right, the decision to treat one class of citizens differently than another raises a likely equal protection problem.

    3) The Second amendment prohibits government infringements of “arms”. The Governor’s bill perpetuates the infringement on the right of the people to carry longarms. It only creates an exception for handguns.

    4) The Governor’s bill has a curious provision, which is likely some form of trap, that conditions the exception to a criminal charge only for those who are “in a place where the person is lawfully present.”

    5) The Governor’s bill further restricts at least two classes of individuals, such as those with certain DUI convictions, which individuals are not prohibited by state or federal law form possessing firearms.

    6) The Governor’s bill appears to enact a lifetime ban on certain individuals who have a history of mental illness. To the extent it does this it likely jeopardizes federal grants under the NICS Improvement Act of 2007-2008 which required states to enact laws to remove disabilities on those with certain prior mental health disqualifiers as a condition of receiving federal grants, which Tennessee enacted in 2015.

    The point is that the Governor’s bill is NOT real constitutional carry. Some could argue its better than only having a permitting system but you could also argue that taking an incremental step, such as this, both fails us on the restoration of our rights and it likely delays significantly the Legislature’s willingness to come back and fix the problems it is creating by passing only an incremental step.


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