NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee House voted 64 - 29 to send the constitutional carry bill to the governor's desk.
The bill allows military members ages 18 to 20, and adults 20 and older to carry open or concealed handguns without a permit. Currently, gun owners have to take a training course before carrying a handgun.
The bill also increases punishments for certain gun crimes. The theft of a firearm will be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony, and requires 6 months jail time for the offense.
The bill, which has been a priority of Governor Bill Lee in 2021, has received criticism from numerous groups, including law enforcement over concerns it would increase crime. While supporters said they're supporting 2nd Amendment rights.
"This is not the end of the road," said Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Portland. "It is a massive step forward for freedom in our great state, and it is a huge step forward for public safety."
This bill doesn't just impact adults 20 and older, it also includes those in the military ages 18-20.
For perspective as to how many people this impacts, the state issued more than 145,000 handgun permits and only suspended, revoked or denied a little under 6,000 permits in 2020.
Monday night, there was a lot of talk about loss of revenue which the bill originally said would be $20 million. Rep. Lamberth clarified the state would only lose about $2.67 million.
The bill was approved in the Senate on Mar. 18. If signed by Governor Lee, the law would go into effect July 1.