NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Members of the state senate judiciary committee Tuesday heard testimony from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on reservations about proposed legislation to allow permit-less handgun carrying in the state.
Permitless or “Constitutional” carry legislation passed a key committee in Nashville, leading to those 21 or older to be able to carry handguns without a permit. The state senate judiciary committee approved an amendment to the original bill proposed by Gov. Bill Lee.
The amendment stipulates that a person be 21 years old to carry a handgun, unless they are 18 and honorably discharged or retired from the Armed Forces. Those on active duty or members of the National Guard would also be allowed to carry guns without permits.
The TBI opposed the bill, pointing to the nearly 5,500 people who were excluded from permits or had their permits revoked in 2020.
At the senate judiciary committee, TBI Senior Policy Advisor Jimmy Musice offered testimony to this point.
“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,” Musice said.
He added that 63,000 Tennesseans are considered “mentally defective,” meaning they cannot legally own a firearm for public safety reasons. Musice said when somebody wants to get a handgun in Tennessee right now, that point is checked to ensure that dangerous individuals, illegal immigrants, felons or mentally incapable people do not carry guns.
31 states already have some form of permit-less carry, and Tennessee could soon be 32nd.
The senate version of Lee’s bill will advance to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.