Tennessee Makes History, Grants 'Constitutional Carry' of Handguns

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

If you’ve been wanting to tote a gun in the state of Tennessee, your options just got a little more…open.

On Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that’ll change things for firearm owners in The Volunteer State who’d like to keep their sidearms at their sides.


The law — which takes effect July 1st — will allow both concealed and open carry without a permit.

Such a thing — as you may know — is often called “constitutional carry.”

Via Twitter, the governor thanked the state legislature as well as the National Rifle Association:

“I signed constitutional carry today because it shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their #2A rights. Thank you, members of the General Assembly and @NRA, for helping get this done.”

As for details, Tennessee House Bill 786 — the Permitless Handgun Carry Bill — allows individuals 21 and older to carry handguns openly or in concealment without a carry license.

Military members aged 18-20 can do the same.

The legislation doesn’t cover long guns.

As you might imagine, not everyone in the legislature’s equally enthused.

The Tennesseean lays it out:

When the bill passed the House on March 29, Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, said it was “not the end of the journey” for expanding gun rights in Tennessee.

Democrats, however, were largely against the measure.

“It seems that more is never enough when it comes to gun laws in this state,” said Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis.


The bill also increases penalties for those who commit gun crimes.

The law boosts theft of a firearm from a misdemeanor to a felony and mandates six months of incarceration for the offense, up from the current 30-day sentence. It also bars felons convicted of possessing a firearm from early release.

Who won’t be benefitting from the new law? That would be convicted felons, those convicted of domestic violence or stalking, those committed by court to mental institutions, those with recent DUI convictions, and those who were otherwise already prohibited from obtaining a carry permit.

Gov. Bill’s administration estimates the law will cost Tennesseans up to $20 million per year.

That number’s derived from anticipated lost licensing revenue plus an increase in incarceration.

36,335 fewer annual permit applications and renewals are expected.

The law comes at an interesting time, when some say Nashville’s a hotbed for newly-arriving Democrats migrating from left-wing strongholds and bringing their politics along.

Tennessee is the 18th state to pass such a law.

Its predecessors:

  • Vermont
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Wyoming
  • Maine
  • Kansas
  • West Virginia
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Kentucky
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa

Not likely to be #19: California.

Either way, there’s no doubt much, much more related to guns we’ll soon be seeing in the news.




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Find all my RedState work here.

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