NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A bill to create two types of handgun carry permits, sponsored by State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) as HB 1264, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week.
The bill, if it should become law, reclassifies current handgun carry permits as an “Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit” (EHCP), and creates a new “Concealed Handgun Carry Permit” (CHCP).
The EHCP does not specify that the manner in which a handgun is carried, therefore allowing both concealed and open carry. EHCP holders will generally be exempt from current restrictions regarding carrying in public areas such as parks and education-related properties.
The application fee for an ECHP is $100.
The CHCP would allow handguns to be carried only in a concealed manner. There shall be no application fee for the CHCP and it shall be valid for eight years from the date of issuance.
A CHCP applicant must provide proof of competence with a handgun through one of nine different avenues, with no expiration date on the proof of demonstrated competence, including:
- completion of hunter education or hunter safety course by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency or similar agency of another state;
- completion of any firearms safety or training course administered by an organization specializing in firearms training and safety;
- completion of any firearms safety or training course conducted by law enforcement or other organization utilizing instructors certified by an organization specializing in firearms training and safety;
- completion of any law enforcement firearms safety or training course for security guards, investigators, special deputies or any division or subdivision thereof;
- presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through current military service or honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services;
- obtaining or previously having held a license to carry a firearm in the State, unless such license has been revoked for cause;
- completion of any firearms training or safety course including an electronic, video or online course that is conducted by a firearms instructor certified by the State or an organization specializing in firearms training and safety and meets the qualifications established by the Department of Safety;
- completion of any governmental law enforcement agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties; and
- completion of any other firearms training that the Department of Safety deems adequate.
Testimony was given by two opponents of the proposal, a self-declared permit carry holder who lives in Nashville and Beth Joslin Roth, Executive Director and Policy Director of Safe Tennessee Project a non-profit that says they support the Second Amendment, but also advocate for “common-sense measures” – a term contradictory to the Second Amendment which states “shall not be infringed.”
Members of the state chapter Tennessee Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were in the audience to watch the proceedings. According to the Moms Demand Action website, with a chapter in every state and its partner organizations, it is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country.
After expressing his confusion because the current system seems to work great, Representative Bill Beck (D-Nashville), asked the bill sponsor, Holt, “Why are we trying to fix something that’s not broken?”
Holt explained that there are lots of people that live paycheck to paycheck with limited money for what could be considered discretionary spending. The proposal will reduce cost, offering a more affordable option and choices regarding what is a constitutional issue.
On a voice vote, the ayes prevailed, as called by House Judiciary Chairman Michael Curcio (R-Dickson).
Members of the committee who were present and presumed a yes vote, in addition to the Chairman, are: Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski), Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville) Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), Dan Howell (R-Georgetown), Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport), Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville), William Lamberth (R-Cottontown), Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville), Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin), Jason Potts (D-Nashville), Iris Rudder (R-Winchester), Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), Joe Towns (D-Memphis) and Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough).
Democrat Representatives Bill Beck (Nashville), Karen Camper (Memphis) and Antonio Parkinson (Memphis) requested to be recorded as voting no.
The bill passes on to the House Finance Ways and Means Committee scheduled for March 6, carrying a fairly significant fiscal note.
There are currently five House co-sponsors on the bill, including House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin), House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Cottontown), Assistant Majority Leader Ron Gant (R-Rossville) and Majority Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) as well as Representatives Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski), Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville), Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), and Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough).
The companion Senate bill SB 0705 is sponsored by Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) and is co-sponsored by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville).
To watch the twenty-five minutes of discussion and debate in the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed legislation, click on the HB 1264 bill number at the video which can be found here.
– – –
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.