Lee to lead efforts to remove handgun carry permit requirement

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday he will lead efforts to get rid of Tennessee’s requirement to obtain a state-issued permit in order to carry handguns in public.

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Gov. Bill Lee announced that he is proposing legislation to advance the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Tennesseans by implementing a Constitutional Carry law.  

“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “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.”

The governor’s legislation would extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun to all law-abiding citizens with or without a permit who are 21 and older, except in current restricted areas.

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;
  • Increasing the sentences 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. 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,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally.

“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,” said Speaker Cameron Sexton.

The state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Guns Sense denounced the proposal:

“It’s common sense that if you’re going to carry a concealed gun in public, you should pass a background check and make sure you know how to handle it,,” said Leeann Hewlett, volunteer leader with the group said in a release. “Governor Lee should listen to gun safety instructors, who know far more than most about being responsible gun owners. They have said loud and clear that cutting our permitting system is the wrong choice for Tennessee.”

“Governor Lee’s announcement today proves that he’s wildly out of touch with the vast majority of Tennesseans,” said Seo Yoon Yang of  Chattanooga Students Demand Action. “Tennessee’s permitting system helps keep Tennessee families safe — but the governor would rather pander to gun extremists and dismantle a cornerstone of responsible gun ownership in Tennessee.” 

18 Responses to Lee to lead efforts to remove handgun carry permit requirement

  • Gail Baldwin says:

    Let’s be a leader on the no permit front: REALLY? This is the way for Tennessee to make a name for itself?

  • Leslie Parsley says:

    This man is truly a certified nut case. Is there any hope for people of sanity???

  • Christina Norris says:

    What about the right of the unarmed public to live? To be free from gun violence? This is not the Wild West.

  • Christina Norris says:

    I predict no good will come of this.

  • James White says:

    Does his proposal specify concealed and open carry? Either or Both?

  • Donna Locke says:

    One of the worst governors we’ve ever had.

  • David Collins says:

    While the current carry/permit laws allows for nearly anyone with a pulse to lawfully possess and carry a handgun at least there is a requirement that such persons undergo gun usage training which includes gun safety as well. With this proposal it would appear that training is no longer required. One can only guess how many innocent people are likely shot and/or killed because the person legally toting the gun only training has come from watching action movies or old westerns on TV. All of this so the Governor and the legislative supporters can beat their chests in their reelection cycle about what strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment they are. One of the worst (and most dangerous) acts of pandering I have ever seen.

  • Norma Shirk says:

    I guess we haven’t had enough children and abused women murdered yet in our state. Or maybe this idiot thinks that gun violence will never arrive in his gated, high income neighborhood.

  • Diana Page says:

    This is what you get when citizens put into office someone who has no political experience. As with school vouchers, he is exposed primarily only to those arguments his handlers want him to hear, only to those parties to whom his handlers expose him. It’s like he’s quoting from the NRA. I know that this gives him the benefit of the doubt, and places the blame on his handlers.
    I agree that it is pandering on the part of those in the General Assembly, and that it could also be pandering on the part of Lee. As with so many other issues, it makes me embarrassed for TN. Worse, I feel very endangered on this particular issue.

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  • Diana Page says:

    Also, why does anyone think that the increased penalties for those who steal a firearm, etc. will deter anything? This is a knee-jerk tough on crime trade off that is useless.

    This bill endangers us all and makes auto stops more dangerous for law enforcement, etc.

    It’s absurd and shameful to propose this bill when TN has so many issues that are in need of attn.

  • Will Locke says:

    Why doesn’t he allow people to carry guns in the state capitol and legislature and court houses. This would show his true support of the right to carry guns. This is typical of the hypocrisy of our leaders to impose things on others but not on themselves.

  • Tom Coe says:

    This will lead to more deaths of Tennesseans – both accidental and intentional.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Can’t trust him. Probably saying he will take lead to kill it Doubt he has the guts to make this happen. Too much dem blood in him

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