Gov. Lee’s ‘constitutional carry’ bill advances in Legislature


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A bill that would allow Tennesseans to carry a gun without a permit, also known as “constitutional carry,” advanced Wednesday following committee hearings.

This week, the bill passed the Tennessee Senate’s Judiciary Committee and will go next to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The House criminal justice subcommittee approved it to go next to the Criminal Justice Committee for consideration and discussion, slated for March 10.

As introduced, the bill proposes to create 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. It also revises other firearm statutes. 

What’s more, the bill proposes to allow for both open and concealed carry of handguns for people 21 and older without a permit; it also includes military members age 18 to 20. The bill also proposes to increase punishments for some firearm-related crimes.

Gov. Bill Lee had put his support behind a series of 2021 legislative initiatives that he had outlined in his State of the State address last month. Among those initiatives was a “constitutional carry” bill.

The governor’s office said that constitutional carry is defined in SB0765/HB0786 as advancing “Second Amendment rights by allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a permit while enhancing penalties for firearm theft.”

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