NASHVILLE, Tennessee — People on the left side of the political spectrum warned Thursday that more Tennesseans will die if Republican Gov. Bill Lee gets his way on his proposed Constitutional Carry Law.
Lee, flanked by several Republican members of the Tennessee General Assembly, introduced the bill at a press conference at the state capitol Thursday.
This bill, if enacted into law, would extend the constitutional rights to carry a handgun to all law-abiding citizens, with or without a permit, who are 21 and over except in restricted areas, Lee said.
The proposed law would also increase penalties on people who steal or who unlawfully possess a firearm. Proposed penalties would include a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who steals a firearm.
Immediately after the press conference, State Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) told The Tennessee Star that he could not speak for what other Democrats in the legislature will do to fight Lee’s bill.
Republicans hold a super majority in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“I can tell you, as myself, I will push, as I always do, for a bill to at least require a background check before you buy a powerful weapon,” Stewart said.
The Chair of the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus went on to say that “people will unfortunately die or be injured because of this bill.”
When he spoke, Lee said his proposed law “reduces penalties on law-abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong other than exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
To that, Stewart said the following:
“That’s nonsense. Law-abiding citizens can already gain the right to conceal carry permits.”
Also in attendance were members of the group Moms Demand Action, who said they favor more gun control laws. At least one member of that group, a man, booed several times as Lee and other Republican legislators spoke.
Moms Demand Action spokeswoman Caro Frazier told The Star that the governor will “create an atmosphere that makes it more possible for people to commit crimes.”
“This, to me is pandering to the NRA,” Frazier said.
“We have an NRA national convention coming here in April, and, to me, it’s just opening the door.”
Members of the National Rifle Association are scheduled to hold their 2020 Annual Meeting April 17-April 19 in Nashville, according to the organization’s website.
Frazier said Moms Demand Action has several branches in Tennessee, but she did not specify exactly how many there are or where they are located.
“If people don’t have to go through a permitting system where there are checks and balances then they don’t even have to go through a background check,” Frazier said.
“How will that make us more safe from criminals, when someone doesn’t have a background check?”
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