By: Ashleigh Meyer
A proposed Constitutional Carry bill in Tennessee is climbing the judiciary ladder after having been advanced by a House subcommittee. The bill, HB 2817, would eliminate the requirement to possess a permit to carry a weapon for qualified citizens and is supported by the NRA, as well as by Tennessee House Majority Leader William Lamberth. The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), however, has expressed staunch opposition to the bill and has issued a testimony detailing their reasons.
“The current bill draft links the ‘right’ to carry without a permit with the ability to obtain certain requirements of the Tennessee enhanced carry permit,” Ryan Flugaur, NAGR’s Senior Political Director, wrote in his testimony. “Senator Roberts rightly stated last week that this requires someone to prove their right to carry, rendering them essentially guilty until proven innocent.”
Lamberth said the law would “(increase) our liberties here in Tennessee, and, at the same time, it is tough on those criminals out there that would abuse the privilege and right to carry a firearm.”
Brenden Boudreau, NAGR’s field director, explained:
“Under a true Constitutional Carry bill, the right to carry a handgun should be linked to the right to possess. In other words, if you can legally possess a handgun, you should be able to carry it without a permit.”
The problem is that HB 2817 allows only those who would have been granted Tennessee's enhanced carry permit anyway will be able to carry without one. Essentially, if you qualify for a permit, you don’t need a permit. This still restricts the Constitutional freedoms afforded by the Second Amendment, as it would prohibit non-residents and many military-age adults from carrying under the law.
HB2817 also contains a lengthy list of disqualifiers that NAGR has found unreasonable, and in many cases, they are stronger than federal law. Included among the disqualified would be anyone who has voluntarily sought treatment for addiction within the last three years, and non-violent criminals who have served their time.
Ultimately, according to NAGR, the proposed legislation is confusing and would likely lead to court battles, and eventually, nullification of the law.
“Constitutional Carry laws must be clear so that law abiding-citizens can confidently practice their right to keep and bear arms, without fear of mistakenly running afoul of the law,” said Flugaur.
NAGR representatives are working hard to encourage legislators to revise the bill so that it stands as a clean, straight-forward Constitutional Carry bill. In the meantime, HB 2817 marches onward to the House Judiciary Committee.
Read NAGR's full testimony here.
Ashleigh Meyer is a professional writer, and conservative political analyst from Virginia.