Background checks no longer required for Tennessee gunowners

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FILE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee’s GOP-led Statehouse has given final passage to a bill that would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports. Tennessee House lawmakers voted 71-16 Monday, March 22, 2021 in for the measure and sent it to Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s desk. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee has become the latest state to allow most adults 21 and older carry handguns without first clearing a background check and training after Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday signed the measure into law.


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‘I signed constitutional carry today because it should’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their (Second Amendment) rights,’ said Lee, a Republican approaching his reelection campaign for 2022, in a tweet.

He signed the bill just hours have Joe Biden announced six executive orders in a bid to curb violence.

Biden also said ‘no Amendment in the constitution is absolute’ and said gun violence in the US is an ‘international embarrassment’. 

Lee initially proposed the National Rifle Association-backed legislation last year before the COVID-19 pandemic caused lawmakers to narrow their focus. 

He renewed that effort when lawmakers returned for this year’s legislative session, where the GOP-controlled General Assembly easily advanced the measure to his desk.

The measure applies to firearms that are concealed and ones that are openly carried.

Nationwide, at least six states are also weighing similar measures this year, with supporters eager to join nearly 20 others that currently don´t require permits for concealed carry. Meanwhile, more than 30 states allow for permitless open carry.

Supporters of the bill argued that the proposal includes harsher penalties for those who commit certain gun-related crimes, with the governor setting aside $17.7 million in his budget plan for the bill largely due to an anticipated increase in incarceration.

Biden Executive Actions on Guns 

However, law enforcement groups – including police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors – have largely opposed the move and consider the state´s existing permit system an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn´t be carrying a gun.

Asked whether recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and others gave him any concern about timing, Lee has previously said the increased penalties mean that ‘we in fact will be strengthening laws that would help prevent gun crimes in the future.’

The permitless carry law comes after Lee and Republican lawmakers relaxed the state´s handgun law in 2019 by allowing people to obtain a concealed-carry-only handgun permit that didn´t require them to demonstrate ability to fire a weapon. 

The new permits became available at the start of 2020.

Biden unveiled six actions his administration is taking: a crackdown on the proliferation of ‘ghost guns,’ which are built from kits; tighten requirements on pistol braces that allow for more accurate shooting; the Department of Justice will publish ‘red flag’ legislation for the states; invest in evidence-based community violence interventions; and DoJ will issue an annual report on gun trafficking. 

‘Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment. These are phony arguments, suggesting that these are second amendment rights at stake,’ he said at the event in the Rose Garden.

‘No amendment to the constitution is absolute,’ Biden declared, pointing to the famous Supreme Court ruling that you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater as part of the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

‘From the very beginning you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own, and from the very beginning of the Second Amendment existed certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons. So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution,’ he said.  ‘Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it’s an international embarrassment.’

‘For God’s sake, it has to stop.’


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President Joe Biden was joined in the Rose Garden by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland in his announcement on new gun control measures

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