NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Bills to allow Tennesseans to carry a gun without a permit are moving through both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Some law enforcement leaders, including the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, are opposing the efforts.
Currently Tennessee law requires a class be taken in order to receive a handgun carry permit.
There’s emotion on both sides of the issue.
“There should be some sort of regulation,” Nashville resident Brett Marker said. “I’m not saying that you should just take guns away, but there should be some sort of oversight.”
Even Tennessee tourists are weighing in on the debate.
“I think it should be a nationwide policy, I don’t think the government should be allowed to control people’s right to defend themselves,” said Scott Larson, a northern California tourist.
Legislation being pushed by Gov. Bill Lee under the ‘Constitutional Carry’ title will let Tennesseans ages 21 and older open and conceal carry a gun without a permit.
“I can guarantee you we are making Tennessee a safer place tomorrow than it is today,” House Republican Majority Leader William Lamberth said.
Republicans say not only are they allowing for more Second Amendment freedoms, but they’re also punishing those who misuse firearms.
“We are adding penalties and increasing the penalties dramatically for anyone that steals a gun, anyone that’s using a gun improperly, felons in possession of guns,” Lamberth said.
Democrats say there are no safe guards in the bills being offered.
“Democrats aren’t against guns; we’re not trying to take guns away from anyone. We just want to make sure that people that have guns…they have been trained on them and they know how to use them responsibly,” House Democratic Caucus Leader Vincent Dixie said.
Republicans say opponents are using unproven scare tactics.
“We’re trying to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys and keep them in the hands of the good guys,” said Lamberth.
With the Republican supermajority, the a permitless carry bill is likely to become law.
“If the bill does pass I encourage my constituents to go get your gun — that’s what I encourage you to do — everyone needs to have a gun,” Dixie said.
The bill also allows military members 18 to 20 to carry without a permit.