Members of the Nashville-based Tennessee Firearms Association on Wednesday said members of the Tennessee General Assembly are considering three permit-less carry bills, but one of them does not fully comply with the Second Amendment.
TFA Executive Director John Harris told followers by email that the bill to which he refers, Senate Bill 765, is scheduled to make its way to the Tennessee State Senate floor Thursday. The Tennessee General Assembly’s website identifies the sponsor as State Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin).
“This bill is NOT real constitutional carry. It has been repeatedly described by legislators as only ‘kicking the ball’ down the field or as an incremental step,” Harris wrote to followers.
Harris went on to say that it is “an incremental permit-less carry bill and it’s one that perpetuates and adds infringements on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Harris, in his email, said he had the following concerns:
• The bill “does not apply to everyone who can legally possess a firearm” and that it “only applies to those who are at least 21.”
• The bill “creates an exception for a class of individuals who are 18-20 years old and who are in or honorably retired from the military.” Harris went on to say that “the decision to treat one class of citizens differently than another raises a likely equal protection problem.”
• The bill “perpetuates the infringement on the right of the people to carry long arms” and “only creates an exception for handguns.”
• The bill restricts people with certain DUI convictions and “appears to enact a lifetime ban on certain individuals who have a history of mental illness.” Harris said the proposed latter restriction likely jeopardizes federal grants under the NICS Improvement Act of 2007-2008. He said that law “required states to enact laws to remove disabilities on those with certain prior mental health disqualifiers as a condition of receiving federal grants.”
Johnson told The Tennessee Star Wednesday that he and Harris “have a philosophical disagreement.”
“Yes, the Lt. Gov. [Randy McNally] felt strongly about people being convicted of a DUI, one in the last five years or two in the last 10 years. The data suggests, on average, a person convicted of a DUI has driven intoxicated dozens of times. If someone is so irresponsible that they would drive while impaired [then] I don’t know that they should carry a weapon,” Johnson said.
“In terms of being adjudicated by a court as mentally defective, yes, we do prohibit those people from carrying as well, and I think that is just common sense.”
Johnson told The Star that some people may desire him to remove certain provisions from his bill.
“But, at the end of the day, if we are going to get the bill passed [then] this will affect 99.99 percent of law-abiding citizens that wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Johnson said.
“If someone is going to nitpick over one-one-hundredth of a percentage point of people that might be impacted by some of these provisions, well, they’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
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