NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 15, 2021) – Last week, a Tennessee House committee passed a “Constitutional Carry” bill that would make it de facto legal to carry a firearm in the state without a license, fostering an environment hostile to federal gun control.

Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) introduced House Bill 18 (HB18) on Dec. 3. The proposed law would create “exceptions” in existing state law for open or concealed carry for those who are not prohibited from possessing a firearm. Under existing Tennessee state law, residents must get an “enhanced handgun permit” to carry weapons openly or concealed where permitted, while a “concealed handgun permit” only allows permitted holders to conceal carry.

Requirements for the enhanced permit include eight hours of certified training, while the concealed permit requires only a 90-minute online course. Under HB18, 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 March 10, the House Criminal Justice Committee passed HB18 on a voice vote.

If passed, the proposed law would take effect in July.


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 HB18 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.


HB18 now moves to the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

TJ Martinell