Some Elected Officials Pushing for Constitutional Right to Carry Firearm

Mar 02, 2021 at 09:14 am by Producer


Tennessee House Republican leadership last week presented legislation making Tennessee the 19th state in the nation to enact a constitutional right to carry law. House Bill 786 upholds freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens in the U.S. Constitution while also stiffening penalties for criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms.

This legislation includes several provisions that will make Tennessee communities safer by providing more severe punishments for firearm-related crime. House Bill 786 includes sentencing enhancements for theft of a firearm in a car, increases the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 to 180 days and increases unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders. It also increases sentences for possession by a felon and unlawfully providing a handgun to a minor or allowing a minor to possess a firearm.

Currently, concealed carry permit holders have the right to carry a handgun, except in restricted areas. Law-abiding citizens without a carry permit may only carry a firearm in certain locations such as their home, car, or place of business. House Bill 786 would extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun without a permit to all law-abiding citizens 21 and older or 18 and older for active members of the military. Restricted areas include schools, colleges and universities, playgrounds, athletic events, government property signs posted prohibiting carry, places where judicial proceedings take place, parks, campgrounds and greenways.

House Bill 786 moves to Criminal Justice Subcommittee for consideration on March 3.

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This bill creates an exception to the offense of unlawful carrying of a firearm, if a person meets the qualifications for an enhanced handgun carry permit, lawfully possesses a handgun, and is in a place that the person has a right to be; and revises other firearm statutes, all as discussed below.

Under present law, it is an offense for a person who carries, with the intent to go armed, a firearm or a club. This bill adds an exception to the application of this offense that a person is carrying, whether openly or concealed, a handgun and:

(1) The person meets the qualifications for the issuance of an enhanced handgun carry permit;

(2) The person lawfully possesses the handgun; and

(3) The person is in a place where the person has a right to be.

Under present law, the holder of a valid enhanced handgun carry permit or concealed handgun carry permit recognized in this state may, unless expressly prohibited by federal law, transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder's motor vehicle while on or utilizing any public or private parking area if:

(A) The permit holder's motor vehicle is parked in a location where it is permitted to be; and

(B) The firearm or ammunition being transported or stored in the motor vehicle: is kept from ordinary observation if the permit holder is in the motor vehicle; or is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person's motor vehicle or a container securely affixed to such motor vehicle if the permit holder is not in the motor vehicle.

This bill extends the applicability of the above provisions to a person who lawfully carries a handgun pursuant to the provisions of this bill described above in (1)-(3).

The present law provisions governing enhanced handgun carry permits provide that the permit holder must have the permit in the holder's immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun and must display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer. This bill revises this provision to instead provide that the permit holder must have the permit in the holder's immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun in a location or manner that would be prohibited if not for the person's status as an enhanced handgun carry permit holder and must display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer under such circumstances.

Similarly, the present law provisions governing concealed handgun carry permits provide that a person issued a concealed handgun carry permit must carry the permit at all times when carrying a handgun pursuant to this section and must display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer. This bill revises this provision to instead provide that the permit holder must have the permit in the holder's immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun in a location or manner that would be prohibited if not for the person's status as a concealed handgun carry permit holder and must display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer under such circumstances.

Under present law, theft of property or services is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services obtained is $1,000 or less. This bill enhances the penalty for the theft of a firearm so that it will be a Class E felony if the property obtained is a firearm worth less than $2,500. For firearms valued at $2,500 or more, the present law penalty provisions will apply. Also, under present law, theft of a firearm is punished by confinement for not less than 30 days in addition to any other penalty authorized by law. This bill increases the maximum period of confinement from 30 to 180 days.

Present law requires a court to consider certain enhancement factors when sentencing a person. This bill adds as an enhancement factor the fact that the offense for which the person is being sentenced involved the theft of a firearm from a motor vehicle.

This bill provides that for the offenses listed below committed on or after July 1, 2021, there will be no release eligibility until the person has served 85 percent of the sentence imposed by the court, less sentence credits earned and retained. However, no sentence reduction credits may operate to reduce below 70 percent the percentage of sentence imposed by the court such person must serve before becoming release eligible. The offenses to which this provision applies are:

(1) Unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony crime of violence, an attempt to commit a felony crime of violence, or a felony involving use of a deadly weapon;

(2) Unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony drug offense;

(3) Unlawful possession of a handgun by a person convicted of a felony; and

(4) Unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun.

 

 

Source: Partner Station WMSR and TN Legislature