NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- The Tennessee House has passed legislation that critics fear would essentially mean state residents could carry a gun anywhere and anytime.
The measure is sponsored by Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss. It would lower the first time penalty for carrying a gun without a state permit to $250. Opponents believe that’s low enough that gun enthusiasts will choose to carry their weapons everywhere and pay the fine if caught.
During debate on the House floor, Democratic Rep. Bo Mitchell referenced the mass shooting last month at a Florida High School and asked bill sponsor Micah Van Huss to respond.
“Please tell 17 children that are no longer with us why we should lessen the penalty for someone breaking the law with a firearm. Please.” (Speaker Harwell) “Representative Van Huss.” (Rep. Van Huss) “Thank you Madam Speaker. Because one good guy, just one, with a gun, in the situation you’re talking about, could have saved those 17 children’s lives.”
The bill was amended before passage to let police officers decide whether to confiscate ammunition they find in the possession of someone carrying illegally.
Rep. Mitchell noted that the existing law is being used by Tennessee law enforcement to take guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
“Nashville had about 1800 firearms taken off the streets last year. Memphis had over 3,000.”
Following discussion the House voted 72-20 to pass the measure.
The bill heads next to the Republican-led state Senate.