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Two controversial bills introduced this month in Tennessee would expand where enhanced handgun carry permit holders could carry by technically designating them as “law enforcement” in certain situations, according to reports.
It would allow permit holders to carry their weapons where only off-duty law enforcement officers can, such as restaurants or stores that don’t normally allow them, WTVF-TV in Nashville reported. It wouldn’t include courthouses or schools.
“This is trying to open it up so that people who go to the extreme to get this extra permit can have the right to defend themselves in more places,” Republican state Sen. Joey Hensley told ABC News on Thursday. He introduced the state version of the bill.
Hensley said the bills would not make permit holders police officers and wouldn’t allow them to arrest people.
Attendees look over Glock, Inc. pistols on the exhibition floor of the 144th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, April 11, 2015.
The bill “expands the definition of ‘law enforcement officer’ to include a person who has been issued an enhanced handgun carry permit; provided, that the permit is not suspended, revoked, or expired, for purposes of authority to carry a firearm under certain circumstances,” a summary of the bills says, according to WTVF.
Republican state Sen. Joey Hensley introduced the state version of the bill.
(Tennessee General Assembly )
To get the permit, applicants must pay a $100 fee and attend an eight-hour safety course. Current military and veterans are among those exempt from the training.
The legislation is facing pushback, not only from gun control advocates, but also the state’s largest police union, which said it is “adamantly opposed to this bill in its current form,” according to ABC.
“The enhanced handgun carry permit training is far less demanding than anything required from a cadet attending a basic law enforcement academy,” Scottie DeLashmit, president of the Tennessee State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the station, noting that police officers “spend countless hours” training with their weapon and have to prove their skills annually.
“These vigorous standards are in place to ensure officers are familiar with their weapons,” he said.
Hensley disagreed with DeLashmit’s assessment and said he’s been speaking with law enforcement groups about the bills.
More than 680,000 Tennesseans have enhanced carry permits, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, ABC reported.
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