In the eyes of proponents of so-called “constitutional carry” laws, the right of individuals to carry a firearm either openly or concealed and without a special license is contained in the language of the Second Amendment.
According to The Hill, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee just signed a bill into law that makes his state the latest to recognize such a right for all law-abiding citizens.
Details of the new law
While the bill made it much easier for adults to carry a handgun without first seeking the state’s permission, it also stiffened penalties for certain gun-related crimes.
According to the Nashville Tennessean, Lee signed the bill on Thursday, allowing most adults in the state over the age of 21 to carry a handgun without a permit. The move had reportedly been one of the governor’s top priorities in office.
The new law goes into effect on July 1 and includes permission of members of the military over the age of 18 to carry a handgun without a license. It does not, however, apply to long guns including rifles and shotguns.
Any adult who has been prohibited from possessing a firearm is still banned from carrying such weapons under the new law. This group includes convicted felons, those who have been committed by a court to a mental institution, and individuals convicted of certain crimes including domestic violence, stalking, or recent impaired driving offenses.
Additionally, the law changes the crime of gun theft from a misdemeanor to a felony and prohibits felons convicted of unlawful gun possession from being eligible for early release.
“It shouldn’t be hard”
In a tweet heralding the language of the new bill, Lee wrote: “I signed constitutional carry today because it shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their [Second Amendment] rights.”
He went on to express gratitude for the efforts of the state’s General Assembly and the National Rifle Association for their assistance in securing the bill’s passage.
Of course, the measure received plenty of opposition from many Democrats, gun control advocates, and state law enforcement agencies based on the belief that more guns in public would result in a spike in crime and more danger for police.
Although such concerns are commonplace within the discussion of constitutional carry policies, supporters say there is no concrete evidence to support the critics’ claims and, in fact, crime rates tend to remain the same or even trend downward when more law-abiding citizens are carrying guns for personal protection.
Tennessee is now the 19th U.S. state to enact some version of constitutional carry, joining Utah and Montana as among the latest entries to that group. Similar legislation is currently pending in Texas, Indiana, and Georgia, according to reports.