UPDATE ON GOVERNOR LEE’S “CONFUSED CARRY” LEGISLATION.

On February 27, 2020, Governor Bill Lee called a press conference during which he announced with reference to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution that he was filing an “administration bill” to join “16” other states by adopting “constitutional carry” in Tennessee.

In his announcement, the Governor said “the Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I am pleased to announce Constitutional Carry legislation today that will protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans, while also stiffening penalties on criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms.”

Yet, the surprise “administration bill” from a governor who stated during his campaign that he did not support constitutional carry was not available for the public to read at the time of the announcement. Actually, it was not even made publicly available for citizens to read and review before it was even voted on in Senate Judiciary this week!

When the bill (SB2671) was presented in Senate Judiciary (7 Republicans and 2 Democrats) it received the predictable opposition from certain groups like the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police which has a long and consistent history of opposing 2nd Amendment legislation as Chairman Mike Bell clearly noted in his discussion of the bill (about the 1 hour mark on the video).

It is important to understand that the true “administration bill” was not what was initially filed as SB2671 – no that bill was a misdirection. The “real” administration bill, which was not made public prior to the vote, was actual in Amendment 1 (SA0544) which deleted all the content of the original bill and substituted 4 pages of predominately increased criminal penalties.
The Senate Judiciary discussed the bill with excellent questions from Senator Kerry Roberts – the only one who questioned many of the shortcomings in the bill. Senator Roberts raised these issues and seemed to be seeking support for friendly amendments to fix these problems. No such support came from the other members of the Committee.

Ultimately, the Senate Judiciary passed the Governor’s qualitifed permitless carry bill on a party line 7-2 vote.

The House version of the bill (HB2817) was offered in the House Judiciary’s Constitutional Protections and Sentencing subcommittee on March 3. After a very brief presentation of a few witnesses, the committee rolled the bill to the March 10 calendar.

It is important to understand that the “administration bill” is not a constitutional carry bill as Governor Lee stated he would file. The bill that was filed instead creates a narrow exception to a Class A (sometimes Class C) misdemeanor charge that is only available to some people who can legally own and possess handguns and available only in very few geographic locations. For example, while the 2nd Amendment protects the rights of every citizen in the nation – Governor Lee’s bill only applies to Tennesseans – citizens from other states are subject to criminal prosecution. In addition, Governor Lee’s bill only applies to a smaller subset of individuals who can legally possess firearms – his bill only applies to people who would be qualified to get an enhanced handgun carry permit but have failed to do so.

Is Tennessee really going to join the other states that have adopted “constitutional carry” if this bill passes as it is presently written? No. Clearly NO! This bill just creates an exception to a criminal charge. The problem is Tennessee law will continue to have a base line presumption that any citizen carrying a firearm in public where 1 or more persons are present is committing a Class A misdemeanor (which means up to 11 months 29 days in jail, court costs and mandatory forfeiture of the weapon).

What can you do? The tone of the Senate Judiciary hearing suggests that the Legislators may well recognize that this is not a true constitutional carry bill despite how both the Governor and the NRAILA lobbyist (who was the governor’s employee last year) described it. The hearing suggests also however that there is no interest in amending the bill to make it a true constitutional carry bill unless Governor Lee directs that such changes be made. Citizens should be contacting Governor Lee ( (615) 741-2001 ) and insisting that his bill be amended to make it truly a 2nd Amendment compliant constitutional carry bill. Act quick and be firm because if the Governor is listening to his former employee he might think that “all the gun owners in Tennessee” are cheering for him right now.

GOA / TFA 2nd Amendment Rally on March 10

Don’t forget the planned GOA/TFA 2nd Amendment Rally on March 10.

The 2nd Amendment Rally at the Tennessee Legislature is set for March 10, 2020.

It will start by 9:00 am in the old Supreme Court Chambers in the state capitol (a gun free zone). [NOTE: If weather permits and attendance calls for it, this portion of the event may be moved outside to capitol grounds on the morning of the event!] During this time, there will be guest legislators and speakers to address those in attendance.

Following that meeting, the rally participants are expected to move into the Legislature’s office building (the Cordell Hull building at 425 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37243). During this time, we are asking that groups of Rally attendees circulate and speak with Legislators and staff about passing true constitutional carry (with an optional permit) this year in Tennessee, eliminating gun free zones, repealing the “concealed only permit”, etc.

It is critical that you call in advance of March 10 to schedule an appointment that day with your individual legislators. You can get their names and office numbers on the legislature’s website which has a “lookup” tool based on your street address.

NOTICE!!!! By decision of Bill Lee, guns are prohibited in the capitol – no exceptions! By decision of the Legislature, handgun permit holders are allowed to carry concealed only in their offices in the Cordell Hull building. Since part of the Rally will be in the capitol, permit holders who are in possession of their handguns will not be able to participate in the meeting in the capitol (you can call in advance and ask Bill Lee to remove that restriction on your right to carry a handgun).

GOA has set up an Eventbrite page in an effort to gauge the level of attendance in advance of the Rally. Please sign up today!

STATUS OF OTHER BILLS
 
There are a great many bills no notice to be heard the week of March 9. Part of the reason is the tornado that hit Tennessee resulted in a disrupted week at the Legislature and part of the reason is that the Legislature is starting the process of “shutting down” for the year. Please note that many of the bills which are on calendar, particularly in the House, are set for March 10 which is the GOA/TFA 2nd Amendment rally day (all day) at the Legislature.  The fullbill report and the calendar PDFs are both available for download  from the TFA’s News Post on this topic.
You can see and share the TFA’s News Post on this topic.
John Harris
Executive Director
Joining and supporting TFA is an investment in the fight to restore our constitutional rights and to fight against politicians who are willing to sell their votes and your rights to whichever business interest gives them the most money!
TFA Website: www.tennesseefirearms.com
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