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Tennessee Lawmakers Advance Widely Opposed Permitless Carry Legislation; Moms Demand Action Responds

March 10, 2021

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Volunteers Are Available for Interviews

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements after the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee advanced HB 786, which would strip the state of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public, allowing people to carry a loaded firearm in public without a background check or any safety training. Permitless carry legislation also allows extremists and white supremacists to evade background check requirements and safeguards to responsible gun ownership. The Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police submitted letters in opposition to permitless carry legislation, which is also opposed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. 

“Tennessee’s permitting system works – without requiring too much time or money, it ensures that people carrying loaded firearms in public go through a background check and at least some safety training,” said Katie Edwards, a volunteer with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action in Williamson County. “We’ll keep fighting this dangerous bill alongside the vast majority of Tennesseans – including law enforcement, gun safety instructors, business and faith leaders, and gun owners – who know that permitless carry is wrong for our state.”

“Our lawmakers should be fighting to pass policies that seek to end gun violence, not those that would make it worse,” said Stacie Payne, a volunteer with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action and a member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose son Cameron was shot and killed on campus at Tennessee State University. “Nearly 1,200 Tennesseans die by guns, and 2,220 people are wounded by guns in Tennessee every year – dangerous permitless carry legislation would only further contribute to gun violence, impacting even more families and communities in our state.”

Organizations that have publicly opposed permitless carry legislation include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, the Tennessee Sherrifs’ Association, the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, and more.

Last session, broad coalitions of gun safety instructors, law enforcement officials, business leaders, elected officials, faith leaders, and healthcare executives helped block this deadly legislation. In Knoxville, Mayor Indya Kincannon, Police Chief Eve Thomas, and Councilwoman Seema Singh have opposed the policy. In Memphis, Police Director Michael Rallings, Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, and the Memphis Crime Commission have urged lawmakers to reject permitless carry. In Nashville, District Attorney Glenn Funk and Mayor John Cooper have spoken out against the bill. The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations also testified against the bill. 

Ninety-three percent of Tennessee voters support requiring a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public — including 92 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of gun-owning households. Sixty-five percent of recent voters would be less likely to vote for Gov. Lee if he signed legislation that would eliminate the requirement to get a permit in order to carry a loaded handgun in public. More information about permitless carry is available here.

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