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New bill proposes changes to TN gun permitting system

The proposal will add a concealed carry only permit that would cost less and require fewer hours or training.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A proposed bill in the Tennessee legislature would add a second type of gun permit for concealed carry only, but it has drawn criticism from both pro-gun and anti-gun violence advocates.

Currently, Tennessee gun permits apply to both concealed and open carry. 

The permit costs $100 and requires eight hours of training, including practice with a gun. 

The new bill adds a second option: a concealed-only permit. 

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If passed, it wouldn't allow for open carry, but it would cost less and only require 90 minutes of training with no hands-on practice.

"You would not have to have live fire training or certification in live fire training before you were certified to carry with a live fire permit," State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) said. 

Stevens is one of the sponsors of the bill. He said the goal is to lower the barrier to entry for people to get a gun permit. 

"If it’s a right as important as the second amendment, you shouldn’t have barriers that high to be able to protect yourself," he said.

Lisa Plawchan is an anti-gun violence advocate with the group "Moms Demand Action." 

She said the current system doesn't need to be changed. 

"93 percent of all Tennesseans believe that the current permitting system that we have in place is effective," she said. "We hope that our lawmakers will recognize that the majority of Tennesseans support the permitting process and they should not weaken it." 

The proposal has even drawn criticism from strong pro-gun right advocates like John Harris with the Tennessee Firearms Association.

"Oh, I think it's a horrible idea. We don't need two permitting systems," he said. "It just seems like an awful lot of legislation and effort to create a confusing environment where you have two permits and no real reason for it." 

He said there are easier ways to make gun permits more accessible.

"If the only goal is to save $35 why not reduce the cost of the existing permits?" he asked. 

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