Senate approves open carry bill for gun owners

A bill that would allow Tennessee gun owners to openly carry their handgun on their hip without a permit passed through the Senate Tuesday.

Now it is waiting for a House subcommittee vote.

Click here for a summary of HB2409.

As the law stands, gun owners need a carry permit if they are going to carry a firearm, whether it's concealed or out in the open. The new possibilities provided by this proposed law are sparking a variety of opinions.

On one side, people feel it is a constitutional right to carry a firearm without asking permission. On the other side there are concerns about people wielding a pistol without the proper training.

People come to Frontier Firearms, not only to look at their selection, but to learn more about carrying a gun.

This shop offers handgun safety classes, one of the current requirements for a gun carry permit.

General Manager Eric Parish says this bill is creating a debate in the firearm community.

Currently, the law states that you need to take a course and get a permit to legally carry a firearm.

"The program we have in place now, the hand gun carry permit class is more of a law class. Of course, it goes over shooting and fundamentals, but it's a law class," says Parish.

Liston Matthews carries a handgun. Sometimes he chooses to open carry.

He says it's a constitutional right, and thinks the new bill would be a step in the right direction.

"This bill will partially restore the natural constitutionally guaranteed right to do that away from the home. The reason I say partially restore is because the permit will still be required for conceal carry if this bill passes," says Matthews.

Matthews says it's not only a right, but it also could prevent criminals from taking action.

"I speculate that there would be times they see the presence of a firearm and say, 'hey there may be easier prey somewhere else'," says Matthews.

As for the course instructors, they still recommend taking the class.

"It will be interesting if it passes. We may see a decline in people taking the handgun permit class. Although we discourage it. Because you won't get that education that comes along with the handgun carry permit," says Parish.

Governor Haslam says his administration is looking further into this bill.

The governor did not say much, only that he's waiting to hear all safety and security concerns before making a judgment. If the house passes the bill, it will be in Haslam's hands.

McMinn county sheriff Joe Guy says if the bill does pass, he recommends people still carry concealed. He says it is safer and offers tactical advantages.


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