NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 30, 2020) – On Tuesday, a Tennessee House committee passed a “Constitutional Carry” bill that would make it legal for Tennessee residents to carry a firearm without a license in the state, fostering an environment hostile to federal gun control.

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) introduced House Bill 2817 (HB2817) back in February. Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Brentwood) introduced the companion bill (SB2671) in the Senate. The proposed law would make it legal for Tennessee residents 21 and older to carry a handgun without a permit. Tennesseans would still be able to get a concealed carry permit they can use to carry in other states that have reciprocity with Tennessee.

On May 26, the House Judiciary Committee passed HB2817 by a 16-7 vote.


While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.

The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”

Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.

State actions such as passing HB2817 would lower barriers for those wanting to the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.


HB2817 now moves to the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee, where it must pass by a majority vote before moving to the full committee. A hearing is scheduled for June 3.

Mike Maharrey

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