NASHVILLE — Lawmakers in Tennessee have proposed two controversial bills that would expand where some gun owners can carry.
HB 254 and SB2523 designate "a person who has been issued an enhanced handgun carry permit" as a member of law enforcement, under certain circumstances. It amends existing code that currently states a law enforcement officer is defined as "a person who is a full-time employee of the state in a position authorized by the laws of this state to carry a firearm and to make arrests for violations of some or all of the laws of this state, or a full-time police officer who has been certified by the peace officer standards and training commission, or a vested correctional officer employed by the department of correction."
The bills allow permit holders to carry a gun where police can carry one.
State senator Joey Hensley, who introduced SB 2523, told ABC News the legislation does not make gun holders police officers. Instead, he said, it allows enhanced handgun permit owners to carry their weapons in places where off-duty officers can carry them. This includes a store or restaurant that prohibits guns inside the business but does not include courts or schools.
Currently in Tennessee, any adult can apply for an enhanced gun permit, which allows open and concealed carry.
The applicant must pay a $100 fee and go through an eight-hour handgun safety course.
However, several groups can get exemption from the training, including registered armed guard, military members and veterans.
The Tennessee State Lodge for the Fraternal Order of Police has told it is opposed to this bill, essentially saying that civilians are not versed in “criminal law, defense tactics” the way police officers are.
A hearing has not yet been set for the bills.