NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Tuesday, a new bill passed before the Civil Justice Subcommittee, pushing it one step further. The proposed legislation would allow gun permit holders to “carry any firearms, rather than handguns.”
House Bill 1005 was met with opposition before the committee from the legislative director for the Department of Safety and a colonel for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“The idea of someone being able to carry any kind of rifle or high capacity rifles, is a concern for law enforcement,” testified Colonel Matt Perry with the THP.
The bill, introduced by Representative Rusty Grills, would change references of “handguns” to “firearms.” The distinction had some lawmakers worried about the possible consequences.
“In reading the bill, this would allow any individual to carry an AK-47 out front of this building, up and down Broadway. Am I reading that correctly?,” questioned Representative Bill Beck (D-Nashville).
In response, Elizabeth Stroecker with the Tennessee Department of Safety, who testified as well, responded by stating “yes sir.”
Throughout the conversation, Rep. Grills stood his ground, as he highlighted the people’s right to bear arms.
“Would you agree though, that it would be beneficial for an individual to defend themselves in case someone who was not the average person were to show up in a place of, just a common ground so that them and their family aren’t put at the mercy of a could-be perpetrator?” questioned Rep. Grills.
Colonel Perry responded, “Yes sir, I believe someone should be able to, but necessarily with rifles and higher capacity weapons.”
On Tuesday, the committee gave the green light to the bill. Among those who recorded a “no vote,” were Rep. Beck and Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis).
Representative Parkinson took his frustrations to Twitter. In a tweet, he wrote, “18 year olds with an AR 15 or AK 47 walking around in the streets in Tennessee. You’re about to see it. Get ready.”
The proposed law comes 10 years after Republicans dismissed concerns from law enforcement about the so-called “guns in trunks” law, that allows permit holders to keep guns in their cars.
“Most people do not have ill intentions or will not go and harm people, but it’s those worst-case scenarios that we’re worried about,” explained Colonel Perry.
However, those in favor of the bill explained how this legislation preserves the right to carry for those who have gone through the necessary steps to obtain a gun legally.
“It’s not as easy to breeze into a store and say I would like that automatic weapon right there, I’m going to pay cash and we’re going to roll out in five minutes,” said Representative Kip Capley (R-Summertown). “Legally purchased firearms and illegally obtained are two different categories.”
Before the vote, Representative Parkinson responded, encouraging Representative Capley to visit his district during the Fourth of July holiday and New Year’s Eve, to demonstrate how easy it is for people to obtain automatic firearms.