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Permitless carry to become law Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, signs Constitutional Carry bill on Thursday, April 7, 2021. The new law will take effect this summer. Online photo

By Tamas Mondovics

What is likely one of the most talked-about topics of the year is Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signing a bill allowing most adults to carry a handgun without a permit.
The effort reportedly has been at the top of Lee’s’ legislative agenda for the year. The law will take effect July 1 in Tennessee; officially joining 19 states where permitless gun carry will be the law.

In a Twitter statement last week, Lee thanked the Tennessee legislature and National Rifle Association for their work to pass the bill.

“I signed constitutional carry today because it shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their #2A rights. Thank you, members, of the General Assembly and @NRA, for helping get this done.”

The new law allows people 21 and older to carry handguns openly or concealed without a permit, along with members of the military ages 18 to 20.The new law reportedly does not apply to long guns, such as rifles, carbines, shotguns, muskets, blunderbusses, submachine guns, personal defense weapons, wall guns, musketoons, leading to some more debate and questions.

Upon introducing the Constitutional Carry Legislation early last year, under “Tennessee to protect Second Amendment rights and make communities safer,” Lee promoted the “advancing the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Tennesseans…”

“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Gov. Bill Lee while introducing the bill. “I am pleased to announce Constitutional Carry legislation today that will protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans while also stiffening penalties on criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms. I appreciate Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Sexton for helping to lead the way on this important issue.”

As stated in a release, the legislation also includes several increased penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety, including increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a felony; providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car; increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days.

The law also increases the penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.

“A big part of protecting the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens is cracking down on criminals who use guns,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally. “We will make sure those who commit crimes with firearms serve their full sentences and nothing less. Many states across the nation are moving towards permitless carry, and I support the governor in this initiative.” 

Speaker Cameron Sexton added, “This legislation ensures that law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to carry their handgun, but if you are a violent criminal, felon or drug dealer, there will be no tolerance for unlawful gun possession here in Tennessee.”

“I applaud Governor Lee’s commitment to Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights guaranteed by our U.S. and state constitutions,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson.

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