NASHVILLE, March 5, 2021 — The Legislature is rapidly addressing the bills that the Tennessee Firearms Association has flagged for tracking. There are three bills that clearly are at the top of the list because they all address permitless carry proposals.
By John Harris / Tennessee Firearms Assn.
The bill getting the most attention is the Governor’s Bill – HB786/SB765. The attention is likely because it is the 2021 version of the bill that the Governor himself had filed in 2020. Make no mistake, this is not true constitutional carry and, if passed in its present form, it certainly will not achieve the goal of true constitutional carry.
Indeed, on March 2, when the bill was being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Mike Bell made several important comments about the bill (see hearing video at 3 hours, 27 minutes). This comment by Chairman Mike Bell is worth noting – “Is it [this bill] everything I may have wanted in a bill that creates permitless carry? No. But it gets the ball further down the field.” It is not just TFA, Senators and House members know that the Governor’s bill is not the goal, that it falls short of the goal, and that it is not what it could be.
You need to be calling Governor Bill Lee at 615-741-2001 and ask him why he is pushing a bill that is only an incremental step, a bill that only moves the ball “further down the field” rather than using the GOP super majority to score a Second Amendment victory for Tennesseans.
Why is he blocking true constitutional carry and instead pushing for only another incremental – incomplete – step towards the goal?
Another bill also came out of committee this week and it is a much stronger and better version of permitless carry. It is SB318/HB18. It will be heard in the House Criminal Committee this week and needs your phone calls to your legislators and to committee members.
A third bill is SB1391/HB1388 which actually removes the criminal penalty for carrying a firearm without a permit. This bill is a strong step to implementing constitutional carry but it has not been heard at this time. This bill has not been set to be heard at this time.
There are a number of other bills that are moving forward this past week and that are on calendar to be heard in the upcoming week. All of these bills are attached to the TFA’s bill status and calendar reports that are available for download below.
What can you do, other than be frustrated?
➤ Call the Governor at (615) 741-2001. Ask him to have his bill amended to allow anyone who can legally possess any firearm to carry that firearm. Ask him if he is the reason why the Legislature appears unwilling to amend “his” bill to make it true constitutional carry? Ask him why he is trying to push just an incremental step, as described by Senator Mike Bell, rather than to score a constitutional victory for Tennesseans!
➤ Call Lt. Gov. Randy McNally at his Nashville office at (615) 741-6806 OR at his “district” office in Oak Ridge at (865) 483-5544. Ask him to help fix the defects in the Governor’s bill in order to allow anyone who can legally possess any firearm to carry that firearm. Ask him if he is the reason why the Legislature appears unwilling to amend the Governor’s bill to make it true constitutional carry? Ask him if he is supporting only an incremental step, as described by Senator Mike Bell, rather than to score a constitutional victory for Tennesseans! Ask him to instead support Senate Bill 1391 by Sen. Janice Bowling or Senate Bill 318 by Senator Joey Hensley – either of which are much better than the Governor’s bill.
➤ Call all the members of the House Criminal Justice Committee (numbers are listed below). Ask them to fix the defects in the Governor’s bill (HB786) that will be heard this week in order to allow anyone who can legally possess any firearm to carry that firearm. Ask them not to support only an incremental step, as described by Senator Mike Bell, rather than to score a constitutional victory for Tennesseans! Ask them instead to support House Bill 18 (by Rep. Griffey) or House Bill 1388 (by Rep. Todd) – either of which are much better than the Governor’s bill.
As noted by Senator Kerry Roberts, there is no doubt that the Governor’s bill falls short of the true goal. It is only an incremental step, perhaps at the far end of the field, from the goal of true constitutional carry. If that is all they are willing to pass, then it will be necessary to come back next year, and the year after that and the year after that if necessary until the Legislature reads the phrase “shall not be infringed” and enacts a law that allows anyone who can legally possess any firearm to carry that firearm – PERIOD.
House Criminal Justice Committee:
Chairman Michael Curcio – (615) 741-3513
Vice Chair Jerry Sexton – (615) 741-2534
Bill Beck – (615) 741-3229
Scotty Campbell – (615) 741-2050
Vincent Dixie – (615) 741-1997
Clay Doggett – (615) 741-7476
Andrew Farmer – (615) 741-4419
Bruce Griffey – (615) 741-6804
G.A. Hardaway – (615) 741-5625
David Hawk – (615) 741-7482
Dan Howell – (615) 741-7799
Bud Hulsey – (615) 741-2886
William Lamberth – (615) 741-1980
London Lamar – (615) 741-3830
Debra Moody – (615) 741-3774
Lowell Russell – (615) 741-3736