Tennessee House Republican leadership last week presented legislation making Tennessee the 19th state in the nation to enact a constitutional right to carry law. House Bill 786 upholds freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens in the U.S. Constitution while also stiffening penalties for criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms.
This legislation includes several provisions that will make Tennessee communities safer by providing more severe punishments for firearm-related crime. House Bill 786 includes sentencing enhancements for theft of a firearm in a car, increases the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 to 180 days and increases unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders. It also increases sentences for possession by a felon and unlawfully providing a handgun to a minor or allowing a minor to possess a firearm.
Currently, concealed carry permit holders have the right to carry a handgun, except in restricted areas. Law-abiding citizens without a carry permit may only carry a firearm in certain locations such as their home, car, or place of business. House Bill 786 would extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun without a permit to all law-abiding citizens 21 and older or 18 and older for active members of the military. Restricted areas include schools, colleges and universities, playgrounds, athletic events, government property signs posted prohibiting carry, places where judicial proceedings take place, parks, campgrounds and greenways. House Bill 786 moves to Criminal Justice Subcommittee for consideration on March 3.