The Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) announced its support for what it called a “real” constitutional carry bill filed by State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) for the upcoming legislative session.
Late last week, John Harris, executive director of TFA, “Tennessee’s only no-compromise gun organization,” sent an email to its members and released a podcast discussing Griffey’s HB0018.
“Constitutional carry,” as Harris explains in his podcast, is “a term that refers to the right of citizens who can legally possess firearms to carry those firearms without paying the state a fee, undergoing a state background check or undergoing state-mandated training.”
About 18 states have some form of constitutional carry, according to Harris, including four of Tennessee’s border states – Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Additionally, approximately 30 states, including 7 of the 8 states that border Tennessee, have permit-less open carry.
Meanwhile, Tennessee has one of the most burdensome permitting systems in the nation, according to Harris.
Even left-leaning states like Maine, New Hampshire and Bernie Sanders’ Vermont have adopted constitutional carry.
In his more than 25 years as the executive director of TFA, Harris has seen a number of constitutional carry bills filed in Tennessee, most of which were supported by his organization.
While there has been more than 11 years of a Republican supermajority in the Tennessee General Assembly and a Republican governor, constitutional carry bills have repeatedly been killed in the legislature’s subcommittee and committee systems, says Harris.
One of the most consistent opponents to removing infringement and passing constitutional carry in Tennessee, Harris advises, has been the governor’s own administrations.
That changed last year when Governor Bill Lee announced in a press conference surrounded by Republican legislators that he would actually be introducing a constitutional carry bill, The Tennessee Star reported.
Harris said that once the details of the governor’s bill were revealed, it wasn’t true constitutional carry.
However, the bill marked a significant commitment by Tennessee’s chief executive toward the measure.
YouTube’s Guns & Gadgets, billing itself as the premier source for Second Amendment news, posted a video about Griffey’s bill that has now been viewed more than 91,000 times.
The host quoted Griffey’s comments on his legislation.
It is more than abundantly clear that criminals will continue to illegally obtain firearms and threaten the lives and safety of law-abiding Tennesseans.
I, therefore, see no logical reason why law-abiding Tennesseans should face criminal prosecution for possessing a firearm consistent with their rights under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution for their own safety and the safety of others.
Why should a law-abiding Tennessean have to face a criminal with a firearm empty-handed?
Law enforcement simply cannot be everywhere. In order to prevent the needless loss of life, citizens retain the ultimate right to protect themselves from the threat of death or violence and this right must not be infringed upon.
Griffey’s bill does not do away with the permitting system, which is needed for the purposes of reciprocity with other states, but it does eliminate the presumption in Tennessee that it is a crime for a citizen to have a firearm at their home or place of business without a permit, advises Harris.
Of the more than 100 bills filed already by the upcoming 112th Tennessee General Assembly, Harris mentioned in his podcast a few more that his organization supports.
HB0025 filed by State Rep. Chris Todd (R-Madison County) would improve Tennessee’s civil and criminal immunity laws by protecting the victims of violent crime from being criminally prosecuted or civilly sued because they used force in self-defense.
Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) has filed HB0011 which will allow homeowners, landowners, business owners and others to protect their property and assets when law enforcement cannot or simply does not, as happened during the rioting and looting that occurred in Tennessee and other states last year.
All three bills currently lack a Senate co-sponsor.
Harris outlined the need for several other pieces of legislation that would further protect Tennessean’s Second Amendment rights, and encouraged supporters of the Second Amendment to get informed and engage with their state legislators.
Harris’s full podcast of January 7 can be heard here.
– – –
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.