The Tennessee Firearms Association Opposes Bill Lowering Handgun Age to 18 Because of Certain Provisions


The Tennessee Firearms Association announced its opposition to a pending bill under General Assembly consideration that lowers the handgun carry age from 21 to 18.

State Rep. Chris Todd (R-Madison) filed HB1735 last month. House Majority Leader William Lamberth is a co-sponsor. Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) filed the companion bill, SB2291, on Wednesday.

A statement provided by Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris to The Tennessee Star said:

Tennessee Firearms Association has considered House Bill 1735 (Senate Bill 2291) and does not support the bill as filed.  Current Tennessee law allows only those individuals who are 18-20 years old and who have military service to obtain an enhanced handgun permit while denying other 18-20 year olds who lack military service the capacity to obtain an enhanced handgun permit.  This legislation would eliminate the clear equal protection problem of existing Tennessee law and would treat all 18-20 year old citizens the same with respect to the capacity to obtain a handgun permit.

However, the proposed legislation itself incorporates additional language which seeks to impose criminal prohibitions concerning the places where 18-20 year olds who have an enhanced permit but do who do not military service can possess a handgun which prohibitions do not apply to 18-20 year olds who have military service.  Since the United States Supreme Court declared in Heller that the rights protected by the Second Amendment constitute a fundamental human right, it is inappropriate to treat some 18-20 year olds differently from others as this legislation proposes and as current law already does.  It is this feature of this legislation which Tennessee Firearms Association believes should not be added to Tennessee law.

Under current law, individuals who are at least 18 years old in Tennessee and in many other states are able to purchase, own and possess handguns.  Even ATF’s own website makes clear that 18-20 years olds can legally purchase handguns under federal law so long as they do not make such purchase from a federally licensed dealer.  Tennessee Firearms Association supports the efforts in 2022 to change state law so that anyone who can legally possess a handgun has the capacity without the necessity of a state issued permit or reliance on a statutory defense to carry that firearm for lawful purposes, including personal protection.

The bill caption states:

Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, lowers the age requirement to obtain an enhanced or concealed handgun carry permit or lawfully carry a handgun in public from 21 to 18 years of age; states that the statutory authorization to transport or store a firearm or firearm ammunition in a motor vehicle under certain circumstances does not apply to a person under 21 years of age in a parking area that is owned, operated, or while in use by any school, unless the person is at least 18 years of age and meets certain military qualifications. – Amends TCA Title 39.

The Star previously reported that HB1735 does not allow for an individual under 21 years and older to store or transport a firearm on a school campus unless that individual is 18 years of age and is:

(A) Is an honorably discharged or retired veteran of the United States armed forces; (B) Is an honorably discharged member of the army national guard, the army reserve, the navy reserve, the marine corps reserve, the air national guard, the air force reserve, or the coast guard reserve, who has successfully completed a basic training program; or (C) Is a member of the United States armed forces on active duty status or is a current member of the army national guard, the army reserve, the navy reserve, the marine corps reserve, the air national guard, the air force reserve, or the coast guard reserve, who has successfully completed a basic training program.

It is currently unclear what effect the Tennessee Firearms Association’s opposition to the legislation will have.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]





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7 Thoughts to “The Tennessee Firearms Association Opposes Bill Lowering Handgun Age to 18 Because of Certain Provisions”

  1. Ron W

    Tennessee needs to decide and codify what is a legal adult. Then ALL rights fully apply to them according to the Tennessee Constitution Declaration of Rights. In the matter of armed self defense, it is the WORDING of Article I, Section 26:

    That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.

    This wording clearly states the right to keep and bear (carry) any firearm legally owned by a legal adult. It only gives power to the Legislature to “regulate the WEARING” of arms, that is, HOW the firearm is carried such as holstered or with a sling on a long gun —which must be “with a view to prevent crime.” Therefore we already HAVE a right of Constitutional Carry!

    State Legislators, Judges and the Governor are DUTY bound by OATH to OBEY the words of the State Constitution!

  2. You can be drafted at 18, with a gun in your hand, but you can’t have a beer?

    If 21 is the magical number, which is probably about right, based on development for the frontal lobe; then why not make drinking, draft and guns laws the same age?

    1. CMinTN

      Exactly. It is the inconsistancy in policies that show it is just another way for the political class to maintain control over the rest of us. We need to quit asking and start telling. They serve us, not the other way around. They can be made irrelevant if we choose to make it so.

      1. Ron W

        Right CM, in accordance with part of their oath to our State Constitution:

        Declaration of Rights

        Section 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.

        Section 2. That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

    2. John

      David, the difference between an 18 year old civilian and an 18 year old who has been thoroughly trained by a highly qualified military instructor is the difference between night and day. The scrutiny and training military personnel go through is far superior than a lot of these people who teach the bare minimum in these CCL classes.

      1. John Paul Jones


        That’s irrelevant. It’s a right, not a privilege. Period. Black or white, former military, or disabled and forever ineligible for military service, etc, etc. It. Does. Not. Matter. It’s a *right* that shall not be infringed. To simplify: your right to life isn’t contingent upon my belief that you’ll use your life responsibly, because you’re well-trained/were raised in a happy home, etc, etc. nor is your right to keep and bear arms contingent on my (or anyone’s) belief that you will exercise that right responsibly. That’s why it’s a right, not a privilege.
        Have a nice day.

  3. Kevin

    This effort to lower the age to 18 is strictly a knee-jerk reaction to cover a government screw -up exposed by the Firearms Policy Coalition lawsuit. Instead of them just doing the right thing, and passing a true Constitutional carry bill last year, our State leaders, you know their names, had to play games! So now they have to go back and cover their scat.

    I’m tired of all these political shenanigans!