Tennessee Permitless Carry Passes General Assembly and Moves On To Governor Lee

Photo Credit: Clinger Holsters / CC

Published March 30, 2021

The Tennessee General Assembly approved Governor Bill Lee’s permitless carry bill on Monday evening, allowing most adults across the state the ability to carry a handgun even without a permit.

The House of Representatives passed it with a 64-29 vote, with only five Republicans opposing it. It will now go to Lee’s desk so it can be signed into law.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

The law will let Tennesseans 21 and over carry a handgun, concealed or open, without a permit. It also applies to members of the military between 18 and 20.

House Majority Leader William Lamberth has said this law is not “the end of the journey,” when it comes to gun rights in Tennessee.

Lamberth said, “This is a massive step forward for freedom,” after the bill was passed.

Tennessee used to require a day-long course in order to receive a gun permit, but in 2019 legislature allowed for a shorter online option. However, Lamberth said on Monday that the classes are not as effective as some might think.

Lamberth spoke about the class he took, saying, “I found it to be not a complete waste of time, but not extraordinarily helpful.”

The permitless carry law has been supported by the National Rifle Association, but law enforcement groups have been opposing it since the beginning.

Mike Rallings, director of the Memphis Police Department, said, “I think permitless carry is bad for Memphis. I don’t see how it is such a great thing for the state of Tennessee when the state of Tennessee leads the nation in violence, one of the top three in violence, especially violence against children.”

Rallings cited the law that lets Tennesseans carry a gun in their car without a permit as a reason not to have Constitutional Carry.

“We’ve seen what happened with extending the house to the car, because we saw an explosion of guns being stolen from cars,” Rallings said.

There are 18 other states that also allow permitless carry for handguns. Even with Constitutional Carry in place, the new law will increase punishments for crimes related to guns.

Theft of a firearm will become a felony instead of a misdemeanor and would require a minimum of six months in jail. In addition, felons who have been convicted for having a gun would no longer be eligible for early release.

Felons and people convicted of a domestic violence offense are not able to benefit from permitless carry. The new law will not apply to people convicted of stalking, those with recent DUI charges, or anyone committed to a mental institution from a court order.

Lee began to push for Constitutional Carry early in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic pushed it back, along with several other bills and legislation.

At the beginning of the new year, Lee said getting the permitless carry bill passed was one of his main priorities. Now that it has been passed by the General Assembly, the governor will sign it into law.

The law is set to go into effect on July 1 of this year.

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7 thoughts on “Tennessee Permitless Carry Passes General Assembly and Moves On To Governor Lee

  • March 30, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    As a retired Police Officer living in Tennessee, my main concern with this new law passed is how are we going to know who are the “good guys” abd who are the “bad guys”. Are Police Officers going to be allowed to “randomly” stop someone with a hand gun and do a name check to make sure they fall within the legal guidelines to be allowed to carry. I really hope this new law doesn’t backfire.

    • March 31, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      So, are you saying that everyone who carries a firearm were criminals just because they have one?

    • April 1, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      I’m also a retired LEO still in the process of moving from the socialist state of NJ. I’ve read the summary of the law on the TN state site but have not seen the total context of the bill itself. NJ has draconian anti-gun laws, some of the worst in the country, law abiding residents clean records cannot get a carry permit. NJ is a “may issue” state, not a “shall issue,” no one except those with very high connections or those in power can get one, maybe, the average citizen will not get one no matter how much they try. Everything, even non-lethal weapons are banned in NJ, you cannot carry a small pen knife unless you have a reason to have it in your possession, like for your job, you just can’t carry one just because you want to. This applies to many other everyday objects that by NJ law are considered to be some form of a weapon. So basically I’m coming from a state that does not allow it’s law abiding residents to defend themselves against an armed assailant, you have to call 911. We also do not have any kind of Castle law.
      I understand your concerns when it comes to the officer’s safety with this new law but I also know what it’s like for law abiding residents having no means of self defense so I believe this new law is a good thing but everything always has drawbacks. TN will be the 19th state with a permitless carry law (Utah also just passed it) so it’s not new and I believe needs some getting used to, also amendments can be added to weak areas of the bill……….
      Now if I were signing this bill I might add the requirement that a NICS background check be done on anyone carrying/wanting to carry, your name could be added to a data bank of those without any criminal history, it would be kind of a permit but you can carry without the physical permit or having to take a gun course just like the new law. Tho with all the gun owners out there I really don’t know how this could be reliably done. I guess right now it’s a wait and see type of thing.

    • April 1, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      Check out this article.


  • March 30, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Are people that buy a gun getting a back ground check also will i be able to keep my carry permit current my understanding you won’t be able to carry out of state without a permit

  • March 30, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    With every freedom comes responsibility. It is incumbent on a citizen carrying a firearm to, one, tell the officer he has on if stopped; two, place your hands where the officer can see them at all time during the interaction. Be respectful, pulling a gun over a speeding ticket is stupid and could cost you you life. If you are unwilling to accord the officer these protections that benefit both of you, you should not be carrying a gun, period.

  • March 31, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    The criminals all already went by this


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