Governor Bill Lee announces ‘Constitutional Carry’ legislation for Tennessee


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Lee introduced legislation allowing Tennessee residents to carry guns without a permit.

In front of an audience that included many red-shirted members of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, the Republican governor outlined what his bill what do based on the Second Amendment.

According to his speech, this would apply to both open and concealed carry in non-restricted areas.

Governor Lee stated that it is important to uphold the framework of the American forefathers.

“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I am pleased to announce Constitutional Carry legislation today that will protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans, while also stiffening penalties on criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms. I appreciate Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Sexton for helping to lead the way on this important issue.”

According to Lee, Tennessee will join 16 other states in the United States by introducing a constitutional carry law. It allows law-abiding citizens who are 21 or older accepted in restricted areas. With the new law comes great responsibility as Tennessee has experienced an 85 percent increase in guns stolen from cars and trucks in 2016 and 2017.

The legislation also includes several increased penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:

  • Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a felony;
  • Providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car;
  • Increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days;
  • Increasing the sentences for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.

Governor Lee along with many others such as Republican Majority Leader William Lambeth believes the new law will help crackdown on criminals who use guns.

“This absolutely makes us safer as a state to have more law abiding citizens who are hopefully taking advantage of opportunities to train with their weapons to make sure that any criminal endangers them or their fellow citizens that they can respond appropriately,” said House Republican Majority Leader William Lamberth to reporters after the governor’s announcement.

Rep. Lamberth said the bill would be in the House Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee next Tuesday.  

Although the Governor is confident in the new law, some are opposing it. The “Moms” group held their own fire until the governor was finished and had left the room.

“I think with the governor choosing to come out and fully support “permit-less carry” after a mass shooting shows that he is pandering to the NRA (National Rifle Association)  instead of caring about keeping Tennesseans safe.

House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart looks forward to the debate.

“It is unfortunate that the governor is using the safety of Tennesseans as a political ploy to satisfy his most far-right supporters,” said Rep. Stewart.

The proposed bill allowing handgun carry permits also includes additional penalties for firearm theft.

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