Permitless Carry Bill Advances in House
As Tennessee continues to grapple with both the public health concerns around reopening the state and the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on families and businesses, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the controversial permitless carry bill (HB2817/SB2671) introduced earlier in the legislative session. Permitless carry would eliminate the requirement to obtain a background check and gun permit to carry handguns in public places, including in bars, restaurants, parks, playgrounds, on public transportation.
Tennessee lawmakers returning to Nashville to resume the 2020 legislative session are tasked with trying to make up a $1 billion budget shortfall. As amended, the permitless carry legislation, HB2817/SB2671, carries a staggering seven figure fiscal note, meaning passage of the bill could cost the state millions of dollars.
Since its introduction, permitless carry has faced vocal opposition from law enforcement and firearm instructors. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings testified before the House Judiciary Committee, noting that the legislation “makes Memphis less safe and our police officers more vulnerable.” He also added, “More guns, I’ve never seen it equal less crime.”
Tennessee has one of the worst gun violence problems in the nation, with firearm mortality and firearm homicide rates far outpacing the national average.
- 11th for firearm mortality
- 6th for firearm homicide
- 4th for youth firearm mortality (ages 0-19)
- 3rd for youth firearm homicide (ages 0-19)
- Firearm mortality increased 15 percent
- Firearm homicide increased 41 percent
- Youth firearm mortality (ages 0-19) increased 102 percent
- Youth firearm homicide (ages 0-19) increased 106 percent
- Youth firearm suicide (ages 0-19 increased 127 percent
Tennessee is ranked 11th in the country for firearm mortality. Of the ten states with higher rates of gun death than Tennessee, six are permitless carry states.
The last decade has also seen an alarming increase in the number of gun permit revocations in Tennessee. According to data compiled and reported by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, since 2010, 3,215 Tennessee gun permits have been revoked.
Over half, 1,932, were revoked in the last two years.
Governor Lee, who introduced the permitless carry bill back in February has now indicated that he no longer views the legislation as a priority this legislative session and appears to be backing away from it. The Senate has indicated that they intend to focus solely on the budget, appointment resolutions, and legislation related to COVID-19.
The bill will next be heard by the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee, although no day or time for the committee’s meeting has been scheduled.
What can you do?
Email members of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and urge them to listen to law enforcement and to be fiscally responsible in this time of economic crisis and VOTE NO on HB2817. These are the members of the committee and here are their email addresses:
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Call the Governor’s office and urge him to tell the House to take the bill off notice:
Call the Lt. Governor’s office and urge the Senate to refuse to take up the bill: