Constitutional Carry in Tennessee
- Author | Griffin H
- Date | 3/5/2020
On February 27th, Governor Bill Lee proposed legislation to extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun to all law-abiding citizens with or without a permit who are 21 and older, except in currently restricted areas.
“The legislation also includes several increased penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:
Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a 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
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.”
Going forward we do not know if this legislation will get passed but it does bring up some interesting points of conversation on what this means for firearm owners in TN.
Increased firearms ownership in TN
With this legislation passed, I believe we will see an influx of new gun owners in TN and it will make it harder for anti-gun legislation to be passed in the future. This would be a win for the 2A community and will hopefully postpone or stop a situation like that of Virginia from happening in TN.
Increase or decrease in firearms training
A realistic worry of this legislation is the ability to carry a firearm without having any firearms training whatsoever. Firearms ownership is great but, carrying without knowledge on how to safely utilize it is not something we recommend. The other side of the argument is that it might increase training. Hopefully, more gun ownership leads to responsible gun owners and will motivate them to get adequate training on carrying, firearm maintenance and safety.
Enhanced Handgun Carry Permits are still relevant
One point to mention about the legislation is that at this time TN constitutional carry is not reciprocal with other states. Meaning that you will still need a TN Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit to carry a firearm in other states that recognize the permit.
Our GM Jason Edgley’s thoughts on the issue:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
27 very important, very succinct words. 27 words that get twisted and contorted by both sides of the aisle. 27 words that if looked at objectively, leaves NO room for further interpretations.
The State of Tennessee has on its plate, the potential to be the 17th State that affords its citizens, a permitless carry. “Constitutional Carry”. Essentially, this is, in its most basic form, an exercise of the 2nd Amendment.
Currently, the State of TN requires a permit if you want to carry a handgun on your person. Whether the Enhanced Carry permit or the TN Concealed Carry permit, it requires a permit if you want to carry a firearm. If you read those 27 words, you will understand that having a requirement, a permit to exercise that, is indeed an infringement in itself. It doesn’t say, “shall not be infringed…if you have a permit”, or “only if you do this or that”. This part of the discussion is solely focused on the 2A. NOT on responsible gun ownership.
I will never advocate for LESS TRAINING or LESS EDUCATION, ever. I see far too many folks scraping by the shooting examination as it is. Barely passing. The unfortunate truth is that a large percentage of those that HAVE gone through the TN Enhanced Carry Permit process and will only shoot a couple more times in their lifetimes. There are some that are adamantly opposed to the “Constitutional Carry” for the reason of “standards” or “competency”. Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment does it state that you have to be trained, responsible, competent, or even “ok” at handling a firearm.
It's ok to be an advocate for both. You can be pro-gun education AND pro-2A. You don’t have to disregard standards. You don’t have to disregard responsibility. But I don’t believe you can be Pro-2A if you adamantly oppose a Constitutional right.
Education is key. Competency is critical. Liability is real. Getting FORMAL education is pretty darn important. I’ve witnessed plenty of current and former military, law enforcement, gun shop employees and yes even instructors, and civilians that “have been doing it for years”…….and then I see their targets. Shotguns have tighter spreads. I’ve had conversations with people that misquote the CASTLE DOCTRINE. People that don’t know where they can and can’t carry their firearm(s), that don’t understand what civil liability is. The same people are shocked when I tell them that there is a better than good chance you will spend some time with the police after you defend yourself/someone else, even if you were justified. There are people that don’t understand “shoot only to neutralize the threat”. No…you CANNOT just shoot them in the shoulder to hurt them. “You’re probably not that good anyway”. At least that’s what I’d like to say.
My point is this. I am completely supportive of the State of TN becoming a Constitutional Carry state. Completely supportive of training and education. I would urge you to get properly trained, and to practice, often. I would urge you to educate, through professionals (not Uncle Bob cause he was in the *insert service*. Not discounting Uncle Bob…he may very well be extremely versed in the laws/policies/and super competent in firearms marksmanship and manipulations).
Even if you don’t know, you are still LIABLE. Even if it is your right, you are still responsible.
What are your thoughts on the possible constitutional carry legislation? Are you for or against it and why?