NASHVILLE — By a 64-29, party-line vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation that eliminates the need for a handgun carry permit to carry a handgun openly or concealed in the Volunteer State.
The bill, which earlier passed the Tennessee Senate and will now head to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee for his signature, will become law on July 1. At that point, Tennesseans 21 or older — or Tennesseans 18 or older who are active duty military or who have been honorably discharged from the military — will be able to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, without a state-issued carry permit.
There are exceptions; no one who is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm — such as convicted felons or the mentally ill — will be able to carry.
Additionally, the bill strengthens penalties for certain gun possession crimes and gun theft.
The bill was championed by Gov. Lee, who made the legislation a priority.
Tuesday’s vote was almost strictly along party lines. Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, was the only Democrat who joined Republicans in voting for the bill. The only Republicans who voted against it were John Gillespie, Patsy Hazlewood and Eddie Mannis.
Earlier, the bill passed the Senate by a 23-9 vote, which was also largely along party lines.