Subject: Lee announces "administration bill" on consitutional carry but details remain "concealed only"

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February 27, 2020                 

Governor Bill Lee, surrounded by many state legislators, announces his sudden support for “constitutional carry” and other changes

Over the last few weeks, Tennessee Firearms Association and its legislative friends have repeatedly been made aware that a “major announcement” was coming soon on a 2nd Amendment issue. TFA was told from its sources that TFA’s members would likely be very pleased with the legislation. This week TFA was made aware that a major announcement would likely occur after the Legislature concluded its standard business activities on Thursday.

During an 11:00 a.m. press conference, Gov. Bill Lee discussed some of the aspects of a potentially significant change in Tennessee law that could eliminate the need for a person who can otherwise legally possess a firearm to have a state issued permit in order to carry it in Tennessee.

During the press conference, in which Governor Lee was surrounded by many apparently excited Legislators, the Governor addressed his new proposal regarding constitutional carry. The presentation appeared to be a prewritten speech starting off with the duty of legislators to follow the constitution.

Governor Lee announced that this is being introduced as an “administration bill”. Governor Lee announced that Tennessee would be joining 16 other states that have already adopted constitutional carry. The legislation would apply to those age 21 and up and would not allow carry in prohibited places (i.e., “gun free zones”).

Governor Lee also announced that he would materially increase criminal penalties on those who steal or illegally possess a firearm. His comments did not indicate whether such “harsher penalties” would apply to those who can otherwise carry a firearm legally but inadvertently do so in one of those “gun free” zones or otherwise engage in non-violent conduct but incidentally possess a firearm.

Speaker Sexton spoke on this bill and announced it was a great day in law enforcement because this new law would be a new tool for law enforcement to take guns out of the hands of undefined “criminals”.

Chairman Mike Bell spoke on the bill. He congratulated the Governor for his leadership on bringing this bill. Chairman Bell stated it was time for Tennessee’s elected officials to start “trusting” Tennesseans.

Chairman William Lamberth next spoke on the bill. He claimed the bill was perhaps the first of its kind in the nation. He did emphasize that the penalties will call for “very, very long time” in prison sentences for those who commit crimes with guns.

Senator John Stevens, who voted to kill a constitutional carry bill in 2016 when offered by Senator Mark Green, spoke in favor of the Governor’s bill.

When the choreographed presentation concluded, Governor Lee then invited questions. He indicated that Tennessee’s law enforcement was supportive of the provisions which strengthen criminal penalties.

Governor Lee did state that the draft of the bill has been completed and given to the Legislature. However, as of the time of the press statement, that amendment was apparently not available for public inspection on the Legislature’s website. He did suggest that the bill draft might be available “within a day or two”. However, he seemed to emphasize the increased penalty provisions was a major focus of the forthcoming legislation.

After hearing the press announcement and without the opportunity to actually see the “devil in the details” regarding the bill itself, it is still impossible to say whether the bill is as pro-2nd Amendment as the Governor and the Legislative speakers suggested. Certainly, they have information that is not publicly available at this time.

TFA remains optimistic but extremely guarded as to whether it could support all of the bill. One reason is that its not clear at this time whether the Legislature or the Governor would even favorably consider input or amendments from the public.

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!

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