TN open-carry gun bill draws strong opinions on both sides - WSMV News 4

TN open-carry gun bill draws strong opinions on both sides

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Some state lawmakers want Tennessee gun owners to carry their weapons in public with no permit required, but even some gun supporters worry that goes too far.

The open-carry proposal already passed the state Senate while the House version sits in a finance committee.

At the Nashville Armory gun range, many of the patrons value Second Amendment rights. They say they also value proper training and gun permits.

"If a person is responsible, they want to have the training where you have a certificate or permit that they had the training, and they are responsible enough to carry a firearm, according to Tennessee state law," said Leroy Farris, a master gun trainer and former Brentwood police officer.

But some state legislators don't seem to think so. A bill that would allow people to openly carry a handgun without a permit passed through the Senate in a 25-2 vote.

The proposal may not reach the full House this session, however, since a House finance subcommittee delayed it until the end of the year.

"We are demanding one thing, quite simply. And that is that the bill be put on the House calendar so all 99 representatives can debate it and vote on it," said lawyer John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

Harris said the decision to delay the bill was unfair and ignores the Constitution.

"The belief that we need to have proper training or have permits to carry guns is inconsistent with constitutional limits on the General Assembly," he said.

The open-carry debate is a hot topic across the country. According to the Law Center to prevent Gun Violence, 31 states currently allow open handgun carry without a permit or license. Thirteen states require a permit for open handgun carry and six states ban open handgun carry in public.

Gov. Bill Haslam brought up safety when asked about the bill on Wednesday morning.

"It has to pass through the House first, but our Department of Safety and Department of Homeland Security is looking into ramifications of what that would mean for them as well. I think we would be involved in discussions as it goes through the House," Haslam said.

And others will be watching as well.

"We have this program in place. Over 400,000 Tennesseans currently have permits in the state that are trained to do the right thing," Farris said. "To change that may not be appropriate."

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