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Controversial gun bill may lower age for permitless carry to 18 years old

If passed, it will also substitute the word “handgun” for “firearm” throughout state law, expanding the right to carry long guns in public.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

Wednesday a vote on HB1005 that would expand permitless gun carrying to 18 years olds was delayed.

It’s a momentary pause that’s giving the bill’s opponents some breathing room.

“They just ran out of time in committee," Linda McFadyen-Ketchum with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense TN said. "It’ll be back on Wednesday. So, what we are doing is making sure everybody in our network knows that this is going on.” 

So far this year, over 20 young people in Memphis, under the age of 18, have been treated for gunshot wounds. 

A new gun bill making its way through the Tennessee legislature will lower the permitless carry age in the state from 21 to 18 years old. 

The proposed bill will also substitute the word “handgun” for “firearm” throughout state law, expanding the right for those 18 and older to carry long guns in public.

“This bill will have some very serious implications on it, especially on our city given the challenges that we’re already dealing with the proliferation of guns in our community," Tennessee House Rep. Antonio Parkinson said. "You know, adding an element that would make it so that anyone from the age and 18 and up, not only a handgun but any firearm at this point. That goes for everything AK47, AR15.”   

Rep. Parkinson, who sits on the committee that is currently reviewing the bill, says it's a bill that is ignoring the very real reality of violent crime.

Rep. Parkinson says defending the Second Amendment can be done while also working to keep the community safe.  

“I’m pro-second amendment," Parkinson said. "But I'm not, you know, for having untrained 18-year-olds out there with weapons in their hands and assault rifles in their hand. 

The hearing room was filled Wednesday with mothers who lost their children to gun-related injuries and others who volunteer with the gun safety group “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

Linda Ketchum shared the feelings this bill brings up for her and other mothers who have lost their children due to gun violence.  

“There's horrible loss, Linda McFadyen-Ketchum said. "There’s just the inability to think, especially earlier on. You’re just so stunned and shocked that you just can’t use your mind."

According to the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Davis Rausch, Tennessee leads the nation in gun thefts . He said he feels this law could make the issue worse.

“If we increase the number and types of firearms that are being carried and potentially left unsecured, then we also open up that opportunity for those guns to fall into the hands of criminal element," Rausch said.  

Co-sponsor of the bill State Rep. Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) told ABC24 in a statement defending the bill. 

As an elected official, I took an oath to defend our constitutional rights in Tennessee. That includes the Second Amendment. House Bill 1005 will ensure that law-abiding adults in our state are not punished for wanting to protect themselves and their families from criminals who already do not obey our laws. This legislation corrects an age restriction in our current law that the courts have deemed to be unconstitutional. The right to keep and bear arms is a bedrock American freedom, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to continue protecting and preserving our constitutional rights in Tennessee.

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