House sub shoots down two gun bills, including ‘constitutional carry’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to eliminate Tennessee’s requirement to obtain a state-issued permit to openly carry handguns was defeated in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss Jonesborough said he introduced the measure (HB684) because he believes that “current laws here in Tennessee infringe on the Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution.”

The measure failed on a voice vote in the civil justice subcommittee. Chairman Jim Coley, R- Bartlett, said afterward that the vote was 4-2 against the bill.

The quick defeat of the open carry proposal stands in contrast to last year’s version, which tied lawmakers in knots until it was finally killed in the final days of the legislative session. (Note: Post on the death of last year’s bill HERE.)

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said he was pleased that lawmakers quickly defeated this year’s bill, saying the decision reflects overall satisfaction with Tennessee’s permit program that requires background checks and firearms training.

“Almost a half-million Tennessean have permits under that system, so I think it’s pretty clear that the citizens of our state support that system and are very pleased with it,” Gibbons said. “And I think more and more legislators are beginning to realize that.”

Also, from The Tennessean:
A plan to let people take guns to areas used — but not owned — by a school died in a House committee Wednesday.

Lawmakers on the House Civil Justice Subcommittee didn’t make the motions needed to discuss the bill, effectively killing the plan without actually taking a vote.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, would’ve changed the law to let valid handgun permit holders take their guns to areas a school might use but doesn’t actually own. It’s illegal to take those weapons to places used by a school, like a baseball park or an off-campus building used for a school board meeting.

The proposal came after a 2014 incident where a Williamson County commissioner was indicted for allegedly carrying a handgun into a school board work session. Commissioner Barbara Sturgeon pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the same bill Tuesday evening after some debate. Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, argued the bill could lead schools or athletic associations to cancel games in fear of a gun escalating a “melee.”

Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, sponsored the Senate version of the bill. He argued the legislation allows permit holders to carry their guns legally without fear of breaking the law at a school event such as a parade. He never said someone broke the law by carrying a gun to a school parade on a public street, but he said that was a concern.

This legislation is one of the first bills aimed at easing gun laws that has failed to gain support at the Tennessee General Assembly this year.