NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you’re 18, it is unlawful to smoke or drink before turning 21, but Tennessee House lawmakers want to give 18-year-olds the right to carry a gun.
Opponents say the bill would increase gun crimes and self-harm, but supporters say it’s a constitutional right all adults should have. HB 1735 lowers the age from 21 to 18 to lawfully carry a handgun openly or concealed.
“All this is doing is removing infringements on your second amendment rights provided by God first and our constitution,” said Rep. Chris Todd (R-Madison County).
Todd is the House sponsor of the bill. He says it’s about being able to protect yourself, comparing it to the armed services. “Members of the military or the ones that have been honorably discharged, 18 to 20-year-olds, are currently able to carry, so we trust that group of 18-20 years already to protect themselves with handguns but we segregated out other 18 to 20-year-olds and that’s what this is intending to remove that infringement.”
The bill passed the House with a 64 to 28 margin with some resistance from Democrats.
“What we will do with this bill is make it a wide-open, any and everybody at 18, you can carry a weapon and I promise you, the number of individuals that are going to be adversely impacted by this 18 and above is going to increase astronomically,” said Rep. Larry J. Miller (D-Memphis).
According to the CDC, Tennessee is in the top 10 in firearm mortality rates, something Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) says will get worse if the bill ever becomes law. “At a time when guns have become the leading cause of death in teens and children.”
Johnson added, “the thing about the military when they give you a gun, they give you extensive training, and not only do they give you extensive training, they send you back to the house if you can’t handle it.”
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The bill would also prohibit any person under the age of 21 from lawfully transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in the person’s motor vehicle while on school grounds or events unless the person is at least 18 years of age and meets certain military service requirements.