NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Although delayed by one week in one Senate committee, gun legislation continues to make its way through the Tennessee General Assembly.
Following the school shooting at The Covenant School that left three children and four adults including the shooter dead, gun safety and gun violence has again become a heated topic.
Tennessee lawmakers have introduced more than 30 bills relating to gun use, permits, restrictions or safety this session alone. The vast majority of them, introduced by Republican lawmakers, would increase access to firearms or relax restrictions already in place on the use of firearms.
To date, at least 16 bills filed in the legislature would dramatically increase who would be able to own or operate a firearm in the state, including by allowing teachers to carry on school grounds, allowing current permit holders to carry “long guns” like rifles in public, and allowing 18-year-olds to carry.
Here are some of the bills filed this session that would loosen firearm restrictions:
HB 37/SB 659: Amends the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act (TFFA) to allow for people to carry “a firearm that cannot be carried and used by one person,” a firearm that has “a bore diameter greater than [1.5″] and that uses smokeless power … as a propellant,” a firearm that “discharges two or more projectiles” with one pull of the trigger and “ammunition with a projectile that explodes using an explosion of chemical energy after the projectile leaves the firearm.” The bill also makes it illegal for any employee or elected or appointed official of a state or local government from enforcing any federal law in violation of the TFFA, and makes it a Class A misdemeanor for someone to “disenfranchise” another person’s constitutional rights as enumerated by the TFFA.
HB 41/SB 1429: Allows all public boards of education to adopt a policy that allows for the director of schools to authorize what employees may carry a concealed handgun on school grounds. Current law states this is only allowed for boards of education in “distressed rural counties,” which was defined in statute as a county with a population between 17,000 and 17,100 or a county with a population between 5,000 and 5,100 according to the 2010 federal census.
According to data from the County Technical Advisory Service, the only two counties with those populations according to the 2010 federal census were Wayne and Pickett counties, respectively.
HB 120/SB 406: Would amend an entire section of gun laws in the state to allow for the carrying of all firearms rather than just handguns. Specifically, it would replace all references of “handgun” to “firearm” in TCA 39-17-1307(g), which regulates the carrying and use of multiple weapons, including handguns, other firearms and clubs.
HB 192/SB 488: Would allow all enhanced carry permit holders to bring a weapon onto property that prohibits it and removes the criminal penalties associated with current law.
HB 395/SB 494: Allows anyone not otherwise prohibited from possessing a handgun to do so while hunting under certain circumstances instead of only allowing those with proper handgun carry permits.
HB 578/SB 1121: Would eliminate the application and processing fee for an enhanced handgun carry permit.
HB 723/SB 515: Allows for retired law enforcement officers hired by a higher education institution to carry on school grounds if the officers retired in good standing with 20 years or service and are employed on a part-time basis by the institution.
HB 746/SB 1037: Would prohibit any individual, corporation, business entity or local, state or federal government entity from prohibiting the possession of weapons by someone visiting for a meeting conducted by or on property owned, operated or managed under them. Would also remove the criminal offense associated with such prohibition from the current statute.
HB 795/SB 823: Would allow for firearms to be carried inside courthouses generally while still prohibiting firearms from being brought into courtrooms specifically while judicial proceedings are in progress.
HB 977/SB 827: Would allow firearms on campus at universities, colleges, and other public and private non-K-12 schools or property for persons permitted to carry.
HB 1005/SB 1503: Would rename the enhanced and concealed handgun carry permits the enhanced and concealed firearm carry permits, allowing permit holders to carry any firearms rather than just handguns, so long as they legally possess them. Also expands the circumstances where that permit holder may carry a firearm.
HB 1158/SB 1498: Would lower the age to obtain an enhanced or concealed carry handgun carry permit to 18; adds that those under 21 are prohibited from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in their vehicle if the vehicle is in a parking area owned, operated or while in use by any school unless they are at least 18 years old and in the military.
HB 1161/SB 1488: States a person or entity is not immune from civil liability with respect to a claim based on the person’s or entity’s adoption of a policy that prohibits weapons by posting a sign saying such.
HB 1189/SB 822: Would prohibit a person from bringing any civil suit against any dealer, manufacturer or seller of a firearm, ammunition or component of a firearm or ammunition unless certain conditions are factors.
HB 1202/HB 1325: Would authorize any faculty or staff member of a school to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds with certain stipulations, such as the person must be employed at the school where they would like to carry; they notify any School Resource Officer or School Safety/Security Officer know they will be carrying; and have joint written authorization of the director of schools and principal of the school they work and would carry at. They would be required to obtain an enhanced handgun carry permit and complete annual training. The bill would keep students from being able to carry on school grounds, however.
HB 1385/SB 816: Redefines what “intent to go armed” means in state law to mean a person having premeditation and forethought to commit an “infamous crime” and excludes definitively any “inadvertent or unintentional intrusion” where such weapons are not permitted.
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.