NASHVILLE - State senators today overwhelming approved a bill allowing any gun owner to carry a handgun openly with no need for a state-issued permit so long as they are not legally barred from owning a firearm.
The bill passed 25-2.
The House version remains in the chamber's Budget Subcommittee, and its prospects of getting through the House remain uncertain.
Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill's sponsor, told senators that "requiring Tennesseans to pay for and obtain a permit to publicly carry a handgun in all forms, including openly and while in a motor vehicle - current Tennessee law - converts the right to carry a handgun into a privilege."
Existing state law requires a handgun-carry permit to carry a gun, whether it is "open carry" or concealed. To obtain a permit, applicants must undergo a criminal background check, take a firearm safety permit and pay a license fee.
Those requirements appear to remain in place for conceal carry but would not apply to "open carry."
Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, is the bill's House sponsor.