KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new bill proposed in the State House would allow people to openly carry a gun without a permit.
As Tennessee lawmakers kicked off the 2021 legislative session earlier this month, the Republican supermajority General Assembly is also likely to consider some proposals that were paused last year due to COVID-19; including the permitless handgun carry bill backed by Lee.
If passed, the bill wouldn’t change the requirements to purchase a gun, but it also doesn’t enforce a hands-on training class.
“These are constitutional rights,” said Tennessee State Representative Bruce Griffey, who proposed House Bill 0018. “We shouldn’t have to pay for them. So, 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. They cannot be criminally charged for not getting the permit.”
Several other states already have a Constitutional Carry law in place Griffey added, “Kentucky’s one just above us. they don’t require a permit or anything.”
Though this is not the current case in Tennessee.
“Currently to carry a handgun, either open or concealed, you have to have an eight hour class, and it’s my understanding, I don’t teach a two hour class, but I’m familiar with it, that you can only carry concealed with this two hour class,” explained Robbie Paskiewicz who is a firearm owner and course trainer.
Moms Demand Action lobbies for measures to reduce gun violence and members of their East Tennessee Chapter worry about what will happen if training is no longer required.
“I understand that the Second Amendment does guarantee the right to own and operate a firearm,” said Jodi Scheer. “However, with rights, even those granted by the constitution, comes responsibility, and responsible gun ownership, and demonstrating the ability to use a live firearm, is part of being a responsible gun owner.”
Scheer isn’t the only one that feels that way.
“Training is the key to having safe operations safe carrying, safe ownership of any gun,” said Paskiewicz.
Rep. Griffey said current laws are punishing those who want to obtain a firearm legally,
“We want folks to be responsible and safe, but what we’ve done is set up a two tear system where the criminals already have the guns. They don’t have a permit or whatever, but every other normal law abiding citizen that is entitled to have a firearm has to go through extra procedures.”
This is not the first time a bill like this one has been brought before legislature. The bill has been filed in the House and will be heard during regular session in a couple of weeks. A companion bill has also been filed in the Senate.
WATE 6 On Your Side will be following the bill and will bring you the very latest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.