Silent senators block cut in illegal pistol packing penalties

A bill to reduce penalties for illegally carrying a gun couldn’t get a seconding motion in the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, leaving it dead for the year after clearing a House committee that has shot down some other bills pushed by Second Amendment advocates this year.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, sponsor of SB339, tells The Tennessean that some senators may have thought that reducing penalties for carrying a pistol without a permit would undermine future efforts for passage of “constitutional carry” legislation, which would make it legal to carry a gun without any permit.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee killed “constitutional carry” bills earlier this year. (Previous post HERE.) But it had approved the House version of Niceley’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faision, R—Cosby.

The bill would have removed jail time from the first two offenses of carrying without a permit, and only subjecting people to a $100 fine for the first offense and $250 for the second offense. Currently, the first offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

“The way the law is now, if you get a Barney Fife out there somewhere — they don’t all act like Andy Griffith — if you get one like Barney Fife, he can take her gun, fine her $500 and put her in jail if he wants to. Now why wouldn’t they (senators on the committee) listen to that,” Niceley said.

The measure has moved through House committees despite opposition from major law enforcement agencies who have argued it could create loopholes that would prevent officers from being able to confiscate firearms from people officers know are armed and believe to be dangerous.

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