NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill to remove handgun carry permit requirements in Tennessee passed through a key hurdle Wednesday afternoon.
The Constitutional Carry Bill was approved by the state house criminal justice committee.
The bill allows people to carry handguns in public without the need for a permit. Currently, gun owners have to take a training course before carrying a handgun.
The bill, which is a priority of Governor Bill Lee in 2021, has received criticism from numerous groups, including law enforcement. While supporters said they're supporting 2nd amendment rights.
"It stands to reason if more people are carrying guns in public places, there will be more death and injury," said Linda McFadyen-Ketchum of Moms Demand Action. "There will be more children getting their hands on guns because they aren't trained and they don't know how to properly store them. They may injure themselves or their siblings. There will be more suicide because more people will have easy access."
Others raised concerns in the committee that the rule makes it easier for convicted felons to get their hands on guns and makes it more difficult for law enforcement to know who's allowed to have a gun and who isn't.
However, supporters of the bill said they aren't changing who's allowed to possess weapons in the bill.
"If you're are lawfully in possession of a firearm, and you are lawfully where you're allowed to be, then you will be not be put in jail for not having a permit," said Representative William Lamberth, a Republican out of Portland, TN. "It keeps the permit process out there for all that would like to take advantage of the permit process, we encourage folks to get a permit, in fact we encourage them to get training outside the one class. This would allow some that would otherwise be a law abiding citizen, but we criminalized them for carrying a gun without a permit."
Lamberth added an amendment to the bill to clarify that point.
The bill passed through the committee.