Tennessee governor signs bill allowing most adults to carry handguns without permit

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill on Thursday that will allow most adults to carry a handgun without a permit.

The Tennessean reports the bill, which will go into effect on July 1, allows people 21 and older to carry handguns open and concealed without a permit. Members of the military aged 18 to 20 will also be permitted to carry handguns without a permit under the new law. The law does not apply to long guns.

The Tennessean notes that the legislation is backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) but is opposed by Tennessee’s leading law enforcement groups who argue the bill could potentially increase crime and officer vulnerability.

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“I signed constitutional carry today because it shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their #2A rights. Thank you members of the General Assembly and @NRA for helping get this done,” Lee wrote on Twitter.

The bill will remove misdemeanor offenses for most people who carry a handgun without a permit while also increasing punishments for other gun crimes such as increasing a theft of a firearm from a misdemeanor to a felony.

State Democrats are largely against the bill, the Tennessean reports.

"It seems that more is never enough when it comes to gun laws in this state," Democratic state Rep. Larry Miller said according to the newspaper.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a similar bill last week that will allow people to purchase and carry handguns without a permit. That law will also go into effect on July 1.