State legislators battle over firearms

Subcommittee stops bill on constitutional carry

By Jan Runions - [email protected]

Nashville legislators are scheduled to do battle this week over a myriad of bills that, if adopted, will amend certain state firearms laws. However, the more controversial ones have already bit the dust prior to making it to the full legislature.

In particular, the bills associated with the hotly contested constitutional and permit-free open carry laws have been pulled from the current session.

Also on the chopping block is a bill that would have eliminated gun-free zones.

Senators Mark Green and Joey Hensley cosponsored the now pulled SB131/HB493 which would have deleted language in current laws that prohibit the open or concealed carrying of weapons in public parks, playgrounds, civic centers and other public buildings.

The bill would have allowed the managing bodies of private schools to determine whether students and faculty can carry firearms and other weapons on school property.

This bill failed on March 29 during a vote taken in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. It was subsequently ‘taken off notice’ on April 4 by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A bill dealing with the allocation of handgun carry permit fees was also pulled from the calendar. SB308/HB48 would have required the donation of half the application and processing fees for handgun carry permits to one or more nonprofit organizations devoted to assisting the families of law enforcement personnel, firefighters or emergency medical staff who either lost their lives or were disabled or traumatized in the line of duty.

SB309/HB47 was yanked from the full session calendar by both the Senate and House subcommittees. This bill would have required mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of a crime while in possession of a semi-automatic weapon.

A bill that would allow a law enforcement officer to carry a firearm to public events failed on April 5 in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. The Senate Judiciary Committee had previously sent the bill on to its Calendar Committee on March 21.

Quite a few bills slated for vote during the current legislative session made it through the subcommittees. SB24/HB27 exempts active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans with military police, special operations or ‘special forces’ experience from needing a handgun permit while inside a firing range.

The senate passed this bill on March 27. The house is set to vote on April 13.

Both the house and senate passed an amended bill that was initially written to exempt background checks for firearm transactions conducted between licensed importers, manufacturers, dealers, collectors and ‘bona fide’ law enforcement agencies.

The House amended this bill by deleting and rewriting it. The bill now effectively waives criminal background checks on transactions conducted on occasional sales or purchases of second-hand or used firearms by those not in the business of importing, manufacturing or dealing.

This bill was sent to the speakers of the house and senate for signatures on April 6.

A bill, sponsored by senator Frank Nicely and Representative Jeremy Faison, reduces the penalty for carrying a handgun without a permit to a Class C misdemeanor, on first offense. A second offense of this nature is considered a Class B misdemeanor, under this proposed bill.

An amendment to the bill would create a Class A misdemeanor for those offenders caught carrying a firearm in a public place with one or more persons present.

Both the Senate and House subcommittees were to have their chances at the proposed bill during sessions on April 11.

An amended bill was voted on April 6 by the state senate that would allow all those granted an Order of Protection the right to carry a firearm for seven days. During that seven day period, the recipient may apply to the Department of Safety for a temporary handgun carry permit, according to the amended bill.

The House had passed the initial bill on March 20, allowing the recipient the right to carry a weapon for 60 days.

A bill increasing the penalties for violating an Order of Protection was to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11. The House Civil Justice Committee will take its turn at the proposed bill on Jan. 1.

SB1139/HB876, if eventually adopted, will jump the violation from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. The proposed violations include possession of a firearm while subject to an Order of Protection and conviction of a misdemeanor crime for domestic violence.

Both the house and senate have passed an amended bill that allows loaded firearms and ammunition to be carried inside a motor vehicle or boat if that person is not prohibited from possessing the firearm and is in lawful possession of the approved transportation. This new bill excludes those vehicles and boats owned or leased by a governmental or private entity that has adopted a written policy banning firearms or ammunition.

This bill also excludes the possession of firearms and ammunition inside recreational vehicles, as amended by the House of Representatives.

A bill authorizing the carrying of firearms by all district attorneys general passed the Senate on March 27 and has been sent to the House Finance Department by the Civil Justice Committee.

Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.

Subcommittee stops bill on constitutional carry

By Jan Runions

[email protected]

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