Is “Constitutional Carry” spreading across the nation?
Tennessee is the latest state to allow law-abiding residents to carry handguns concealed without a permit, effective July 1, joining Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The governor of swing state Iowa signed a constitutional-carry bill into law just last week.
Gun-rights supporters believe that the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to own guns and carry them without government restrictions. Gun carriers want national reciprocity, whereby states that permit concealed carry must recognize permits from other states.
Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee he signed the bill “because it shouldn’t be hard for lawmakers abiding Tennesseans to exercise their rights.” Tennessee also will allow open carry without a permit. From the Washington Times:
Under the new law, adults 21 and older and military members between 18 and 20 will be allowed to open or concealed carry handguns without a permit. The law also increases certain penalties. For example, theft of a firearm – now a misdemeanor that carries a 30-day sentence – will become a felony with a mandatory six month incarceration. It also makes exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.
Nationwide, at least six states are also weighing similar measures this year, with supporters eager to join nearly 20 others that currently don’t require permits for the concealed carry of handguns. Meanwhile, more than 30 states allow for permitless open carry.
Supporters of the bill argued that the proposal includes harsher penalties for those who commit certain gun-related crimes, with the governor setting aside $17.7 million in his budget plan for the bill largely due to an anticipated increase in incarceration.
However, law enforcement groups – including police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors – have largely opposed the move and consider the state’s existing permit system an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.
These new state laws come at a time when President Joe Biden is issue gun-control measures. Citing the effort to reduce “gun violence,” the White House also seeks to tighten restrictions on “ghost guns” and regulate a device known as a stabilizing brace, which allows a pistol to operate as a short-barreled rifle. The president is also pushing for a national “red flag” law that will allow family members and law enforcement to seek a court order to block “people in crisis” from having access to their guns “if they present a danger to themselves or others,” a broad definition.