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Proposed Tennessee bill would expand concealed carry law to include all firearms

FILE - Firearms are displayed at a gun shop in Salem, Ore., on Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)
FILE - Firearms are displayed at a gun shop in Salem, Ore., on Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)
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A new bill in the Tennessee legislature wants to change concealed carry laws throughout the state to include all firearms.

But opponents, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, are saying the expansion is concerning for law enforcement.

House Bill 1005 seeks to change the reference from "handgun" to simply "firearm," allowing citizens to publicly carry semi-automatic weapons.

The proposed change raise questions about criminality versus civil liberties.

Currently it is legal to carry a handgun through the streets in Tennessee.

However, this bill could change that, making it legal to carry any firearm with a permit.

"I don't want him (motions to child) having to, you know, walk around see who's carrying guns all over the place," said Patrick Blackwell.

Blackwell says he worries about the example this bill could set for his child if it becomes law.

During the subcommittee meeting lawmakers say it would also include AK 47s.

"I'm reading this bill, and this would allow any individual to carry an AK 47 out front of a building and up and down Broadway. Am reading that correctly?" asked Rep. Bill Beck.

"Yes sir."

The bills sponsor, state Rep. Rusty Grills says this would provide Tennesseans with their right to bear arms and defend themselves.

"It's our job as legislators, in my opinion, to make sure that every Tennessean's constitutional rights are protected," says Grills.

But some members of law enforcement, aren't a fan of the bill.

"The idea of someone being able to carry any kind of rifle or high capacity is a concern for law enforcement. How do we address them? They walk in this building, we're charged with protecting it," said Colonel Matt Perry.

Supporters of the change say the guns would still need to be purchased legally.

But that's the problem, according to some lawmakers.

"I think that's part of the challenge in this bill is that law enforcement will not know who has legally purchased a weapon, who has illegally purchased a weapon, if it's an automatic or if it's semiautomatic, if it has been modified, if it has not been modified," says Rep. Antonio Parkinson.

WTVC asked Tennessee residents their opinion.

"I think it creates more fear and incites more fear than it offers protection," says Kat Wright.

But David Ramsey has a different outlook on the bill.

"When you are in a place where they're more gun friendly, you're going to think twice before you commit a crime if you know, half the people there could be carrying a gun," says Ramsey.

The bill recently passed through the civil justice subcommittee and is scheduled for discussion in the full committee on March first. The Senate bill hasn't made any progress yet.

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