Tennesseeans may soon be allowed to carry guns openly, permit-free

Tennessee open carry bill

You may soon be allowed to carry guns openly in Tennessee without a state-issued permit.

The new law would not require training to openly carry your gun, but it does keep the training in place if you want to carry a concealed weapon. "I believe everybody ought to have the right to carry one if they wanted to," says Harold Brown, who supports the bill.

"I would feel much safer if everyone was required to go through training," adds Stacie Merritt, who is against the bill.

Current law only allows people to carry a gun on their person if they have a conceal and carry permit. Ken Potter teaches the conceal and carry course and tells us the law requires everyone to complete an 8-hour class. "We cover everything from legal issues, to getting familiar with a weapon, to actually going out to the shooting range, where they have to qualify with a weapon," he explained.

We learned the new measure would keep the current training and background check requirements to carry concealed firearms, but would allow anyone legally allowed to own a gun to carry it openly. "To be able to carry a weapon, as an American, that goes with the Second Amendment. That's more or less your right as an American as long as you're not a felon or illegal alien," says Mike Lewis with Shooter's Edge.  

The bill also changes the way a gun can be transported. Right now, if you do not have a handgun carry permit, your gun and ammunition cannot be stored in the same part of the car. The new bill would remove state restrictions and allow you to transport the gun loaded.

People we spoke with say they hope the legislature makes the best decision. "I think if they had somebody right there with a gun there when they first came in or something, they could do something about it," says Brown.  

"I would probably feel a little scared, not sure of that person [with a gun], wondering what they may be trying to do with it or if it's just for protection," adds Merritt.

Wednesday Governor Haslam says he will reserve judgment on the measure until "safety and security concerns" have been evaluated.

The House version is awaiting a vote in a subcommittee of the House Finance Committee.

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