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Tennessee Is A Signature Away From Letting Most People Carry A Handgun With No Permit

Tennessee is on track to become the latest state to eliminate the requirement that gun owners get a permit to carry in public.

The state House of Representatives approved the measure Monday night, and hours before the vote, Gov. Bill Lee reiterated that he intends to sign it.

“It’s really important in our state we protect the lives of Tennesseans, that we protect the constitutional rights of Tennesseans, that we fight crime, including gun crime, wherever we can,” he said. “I think it’s possible to do all of those at the same time.”

The measure, HB 786/SB 765, means that people would be able to carry a gun legally without a background check or training. It does stiffen penalties for illegal gun possession and other gun-related crimes. It was paired with an increase in the governor’s budget proposal to spend nearly $18 million more on prisons.

Still, many in law enforcement oppose the bill. They say the existing permitting system is an important means of knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

Over 700,000 Tennesseans — more than 1 in every 10 residents — have permits to carry guns, and state lawmakers have been lowering the cost and requirements to get one.

The state will still issue gun carry permits. They’re generally required for anyone taking a firearm across state lines.

But 15 other states have eliminated gun permit requirements, almost all of them since the Sandy Hook shooting nine years ago. Lawmakers in Iowa have also voted to do so, and that state’s governor says she’s evaluating it.

WPLN’s Blake Farmer and Alexis Marshall contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 WPLN News