The General Assembly Approves Constitutional Carry

House Republicans this week passed historic legislation restoring Tennesseans’ constitutional right to self-defense. House Bill 786 removes encroachments on law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry a handgun while increasing penalties for criminals who steal guns or possess them illegally.

Tennesseans who are at least 21-years-old, or are honorably discharged or active in the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves, will be able to carry a handgun without a permit in places where they are lawfully allowed. This legislation does not change any law concerning the purchase of a handgun.

Those who carry without a permit must have no felony convictions, orders of protection in effect, pending charges or convictions for domestic violence or stalking, or have been adjudicated as a mental defective. In addition, individuals convicted of two DUI offenses within the last ten years or one in the last five years would not be eligible, as well as federal prohibitions which include illegal aliens and fugitives from justice.

The legislation also increases penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:

  • Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a Class E 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; and
  • 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.

House Bill 786 is similar to laws passed in 19 states, while 31 states recognize the right to carry openly. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval. House Bill 786 is expected to become law on July 1.

Source: Representative Jeremy Faison, Majority Caucus Chairman, District 11