Moms Demand Action and Knoxville lawmaker express concerns about ‘constitutional carry’ bill

Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The “constitutional carry” bill continues to move through the Tennessee Legislature.

If passed, the bill would not change the requirements to purchase a gun, but it also does not enforce hands-on training.

One Knoxville lawmaker said he already knows how he’s going to vote on the bill.

The bill has been moving in both the state House and Senate since the start of the session.

Moms Demand Action has expressed their concerns about the bill from the start.

“Sadly it’s not surprising to me that it is passing through some of these committees in the general assembly,” said Jodi Sheer, with Moms Demand Action’s East Tennessee Chapter.

The bill would allow for both open and concealed carry of handguns for people 21 and older without a permit.

Now, Moms Demand Action is launching an advocacy week to push back against the bill.

“Typically in March every year we go to Nashville to meet with our legislators, state reps., and our state senators to discuss the fire arm legislation that’s been introduced for the session, and this year due to COVID we can’t go,” Sheer said.

Instead, Sheer explained, “We have arranged for meetings throughout the week via Zoom to meet with our legislators to talk to them specifically about gun bills that have been introduced this session.”

Rep. Eddie Mannis said he’s already made up his mind about the bill.

“I’m a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, but I believe that there are guidelines in place. And I think that permitting or having the permit in place is important, as is screening. It’s about common-sense gun laws.”

Mannis said after speaking with law enforcement about the bill, he couldn’t support it.

“Even if my district was strongly in favor of it and law enforcement saying that it puts our men and women in harm’s way or it risks the safety, I would still have a hard time jeopardizing the lives of the men and women that protect us.”

Sheer agreed.

“This impacts our community. Knoxville is seeing the worst gun violence then we’ve seen in a century. We’ve had some tragic shooting recently. Young people losing their lives and a bill like permit-less carry will only increase gun violence in our city.”

Earlier this session WATE 6 On Your Side spoke to state Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), who proposed the House bill.

“The intent of this bill is to simply decriminalize anyone who may not have a firearm permit, that they’re legally entitled to carry a firearm,” Griffey said. “They cannot be criminally charged for not getting the permit.”

At last check, the bill passed the Tennessee Senate 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.

WATE 6 On Your Side will be following this bill as it makes it through the Legislature.

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