Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives have introduced a bill that will reduce the penalty for carrying an unlawful handgun and allow the person to keep it.
The bill (HB 0042) would create special rights for persons found to be possessing a handgun without “a written directive or a handgun carry permit” — separate from rules for possessing other firearms illegally.
“Under this bill, upon a first violation of (possessing a handgun without a written directive or a handgun carry permit), the person will be issued a citation in lieu of arrest, unless the issuance of a citation is prohibited under other law, and a law enforcement officer will not confiscate the person’s handgun solely for a violation…”
A first violation for possessing an illegal handgun would be a Class C misdemeanor “punishable only by a fine of $250.” Under the current law, fines are “not to exceed $500.”
The TBI’s Crime Insight database, which compiles state crime statistics, says there were 22,559 incidents involving the possessing an illegal firearm between 2015-2017. The available information, however, does not create a distinction between handguns and other firearms.
HB 0042 is scheduled to be heard by the House’s Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 30.
The bill’s sponsor is Rep. James (Micah) Van Huss (R-Gray), District 6. Co-sponsors are listed as:
Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), District 1
Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), District 3
Rep. Jerome Moon (R-Maryville), District 8
Rep. Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), District 10
Rep. Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), District 24
Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), District 29
Rep. Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), District 32
Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), District 33
Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), District 34
Rep. Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), District 43
Rep. Chris Todd (R-Jackson), District 73
Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin), District 74
Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), District 75
Here’s a short explanation of the current illegal possession law, according the bill summary:
Under present law, a person commits an offense who carries, with the intent to go armed, a firearm or a club. A first violation is a Class C misdemeanor, and, in addition to possible imprisonment as provided by law, may be punished by a fine not to exceed $500. A second or subsequent violation is a Class B misdemeanor. A violation is a Class A misdemeanor if the person’s carrying of a handgun occurred at a place open to the public where one or more persons were present.