JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A proposed law in Tennessee would allow people to openly or conceal carry a gun without a permit.
“The constitution does not say that you have to pay money for a permit to have permission to carry a firearm,” said House Bill 0018 sponsor, state Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City). “What this does is allows you under the Constitution to carry your firearm just as the founding fathers intended.”
If the bill passes, those who currently can’t own a firearm still won’t be able to.
“We’re going to leave the current permitting process in place so it’s easy for you to continue to travel and not have to worry in many other states that accept Tennessee’s permit without a problem, without question, and without incident,” Campbell said. “This allows residents of Tennessee to carry a firearm in accordance with the constitution…and frankly that should be the law already.”
J.C. Harrison owns ‘Cover Your Six Customs’ in Johnson City and is a former handgun course trainer. He says no matter the law, training is key when it comes to handling a gun.
“Learn the functioning of it, learn how to take it apart. Learn how to clean it, learn how to load it,” said Harrison. “There’s so many different things you need to learn about a gun that just buying a gun and saying ‘ok thanks’ is not what you need to do.”
The law doesn’t change the requirements to purchase a gun but also doesn’t enforce a hands-on training class.
“There’s still a background check so it’s not like anybody can just come into a gun shop and just buy it without them passing a background,” Harrison said. “They’re still going to have a background check if they buy from a [Federal Firearms License] dealer or a gun shop.”
Jessi Fuchs is with the group Moms Demand Action which lobbies for measures to reduce gun violence.
“That to me is just a recipe for a very, very deadly situation,” she said. She and her Army veteran husband are gun owners.
She worries about what will happen if the state stops requiring a training course.
“Most Tennesseans like the way our permitting system is,” Fuchs said. “It is effective without requiring too much time or money, it ensures those carrying a gun in public go through some sort of training and have gone through a background check.”
A companion bill has also been filed in the Tennessee Senate.