NASHVILLE -- Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron is accusing the state's GOP-run Senate of acting "crazy" by passing a bill allowing gun owners to tote their handguns openly without a state-issued permit.
"When I was in the Senate, I sponsored and fought to pass the common-sense permitting law that has protected Tennesseans by helping keep guns out of the hands of criminals, drug addicts, the mentally unstable, and those not trained in gun safety," Herron said. "This 'Wild West Bill' destroys those public safety protections."
The former senator noted he owns shotguns, rifles and handguns himself, hunts and supports the Second Amendment.
"This Wild West bill is not conservative, it's crazy," Herron said. "It would have never passed the Senate if Democrats still had the majority - it never did before when Democrats held the majority. Instead, this bill was brewed up by the Tea Party Republicans in the Senate, 88% of whom voted yes and rammed this radical bill through over the without the votes of most Democrats."
Senators passed the bill Tuesday on a 25-2 vote. The House has yet to act on the measure.
The bill would allow any Tennessean who can legally posses a firearm carry a firearm in public in a holster without having to obtain a state-issued handgun-carry permit.
Those choosing to "open carry" would not be subject to current handgun-carry permit rules which require a criminal background check and include a gun-safety training course.