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Pemitless vehicle carry soon legal in Tennessee

Smith in the cubby
Smith in the cubby
photo by Liston Matthews

This column has long advocated permit-less (commonly called Constitutional) carry of defensive firearms. As related half a decade ago, permits only hinder the law-abiding; while ignoring the fact that law-breakers couldn't/wouldn't get a permit. Other than providing revenue for the state, permits make no logical sense.

You will recall that a bill to legalize permit-less Open Carry was overwhelmingly passed in the Tennessee Senate in April, but killed in a House subcommittee rat-hole.

Meanwhile, another bill was moving quietly through the legislature, SB1774/HB1489. This bill, signed by Governor Haslam on May 1 and effective July 1, removes the requirement to have a permit when carrying a firearm in a vehicle. Further, the bill specifically uses the term firearm, rather than handgun, indicating that one may carry a handgun, shotgun, or rifle in a vehicle.

Here is the Bill Summary, from the General Assembly web site:

Present law generally prohibits persons from carrying weapons with the intent to go armed, however, it is an exception to the general prohibition that:

(1) A person authorized with a valid handgun carry permit is transporting a rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle and the rifle or shotgun does not have ammunition in the chamber. Although, the person does not violate this exemption by inserting ammunition into the chamber if the ammunition is inserted for purposes of justifiable self-defense; or
(2) A person who does not have a handgun carry permit is transporting a rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle and the rifle or shotgun does not have ammunition in the chamber or cylinder, and no clip or magazine containing ammunition is inserted in the rifle or shotgun or is in close proximity to both the weapon and any person.

This bill replaces the exceptions described in (1) and (2) with a general exception to the prohibition against carrying a weapon with the intent to go armed so that a person carrying or possessing a firearm in a motor vehicle will not commit an offense if:
(1) The person is not otherwise prohibited from carrying or possessing a firearm; and
(2) The motor vehicle is privately-owned.

It is hoped that Tennessee police agencies apprise their officers of the new statute. Failure to do so could result in police chiefs, at best, having to issue an apology, as reported HERE and HERE. At worst, an uninformed officer could panic at the sight of the citizen's legally possessed firearm, and shoot the citizen.

Note to citizens who decide to take advantage of this new law. Keeping your handgun, proof of insurance, and registration in the same location is not a good idea.

For a color-coded analysis of the entire bill, check out my companion article at Good Hill Press.


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A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.


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