Senate votes to allow open carrying of pistols without a permit

The state Senate approved a bill Tuesday that, would allow any Tennessean who is not legally barred from possessing a gun to openly carry a handgun on their persons, without a permit, as long as it can seen by others.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Current Tennessee law requires a handgun-carry permit to carry a gun either openly or concealed. Prerequisites for a Tennessee permit include training on firearm safety by a certified instructor, a criminal background check and a $115 fee. Senate Bill 2424, which passed on a 25-2 vote with virtually no debate, would remove the permit requirement — and thus its training mandate — for the “open carry” of a handgun in Tennessee and leave a permit and training requirement only for “concealed carry.”

But in either case, the carrier must be legally eligible to possess a gun, which excludes convicted felons who have not had their citizenship rights restored.

Open carry means the gun is carried in plain view of others, such as in a belt holster, on the streets and any place where guns are not specifically banned.

To become law, it must also win approval in the House of Representatives, where it is awaiting review in the House finance subcommittee.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, read from her bill’s prologue that the “right to keep and bear arms is protected” by the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions and that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its 1943 Murdock v. Pennsylvania case that “no state shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it and attach a fee to it.

“Requiring Tennesseans to pay for and obtain a permit to publicly carry a handgun in all forms, including openly and while in a motor vehicle – current Tennessee law — converts the right to carry a handgun into a privilege,” she said.

Note: The House companion bill is in the House Finance Subcommittee, where it is being held until the panel’s ‘last calendar’ of the 2014 session — an indication that it’s not likely to pass.