By Charlie McCarthy    |   Wednesday, 03 March 2021

A bill to allow people to carry guns without permits is moving through both chambers of Tennessee’s state government.

The legislation would allow people 21 and older, as well as military members age 18 to 20, to carry both open and concealed handguns without a permit. It also increases punishments for certain gun crimes.

The bill was approved Tuesday by the Senate judiciary committee, and Wednesday by a House criminal justice subcommittee, the Tennessean reported.

Lawmakers amended the bill to prohibit people convicted of stalking, or two instances of driving under the influence from carrying a firearm. Persons who have been committed to a mental institution by the courts also would be denied.

The bill boosts theft of a firearm from a misdemeanor to a felony. It also mandates six months of incarceration for the offense, an increase from the current 30-day sentence.

GOP Gov. Bill Lee, included the bill in his legislative package. It has been called “constitutional carry” by supporters.

Republicans backing the legislation insist permits are in violation of the Constitution.

“Under our current permitting process, it is certainly a violation of your Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment rights and others,” GOP House Majority Leader William Lamberth, said Wednesday.

Some law enforcement officials have spoken out against the legislation.

“We’re concerned about not requiring individuals to have training before they’re able to legally carry a firearm,” Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said in a May 2020 hearing, per Fox 17

Moms Demand Action, a group that has been funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ran as a Democrat in the presidential primary, also opposed the legislation.

“Does it make common sense to have more people carrying guns that don’t have any training? Will that not increase violence in our communities?” Moms Demand’s Carol Frazier said, per Breitbart.

Similar bills have been filed in recent years but none passed the state’s General Assembly.

Eighteen states have done away with concealed carry permit requirements.

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