Bills to eliminate the mandate for a permit for those looking to carry a concealed handgun made important progress this week on two states.
The Iowa House on Wednesday night voted 60-37 to pass HF 756, which pushes for permitless carry and other pro-gun measures. The next day, the Tennessee Senate passed similar so-called Constitutional Carry legislation, SB 765, by a 23-9 margin. In each case, the proposals advance to the next chamber for further consideration.
"The concept is simple; law-abiding citizens should not have to pay a government fee and get a permission slip to practice this basic, fundamental right of self-defense," said Iowa state House Judiciary Committee Chair Steve Holt, R-Denison.
In addition to restoring the right of law-abiding citizens to practice the right to bear arms in their daily life, HF 756 also zaps Iowa's permit-to-purchase requirements, a relic from the days before instant background checks. It also has other gun provisions, including allowing law enforcement officers to carry on school grounds, both on and off duty, and preventing public housing from banning firearms in tenant's homes.
The measure has the support of the NRA as well as smaller pro-gun organizations.
The bill now heads to the Iowa Senate, where Republicans hold a 32-18 majority. Passage there without amendment would put it on the desk of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican who in the past was non-committal on permitless carry but said she was "going to keep an open mind" on the subject.
In the Volunteer State, at least three different permitless carry bills are floating around the Tennessee legislature with SB 765 so far being the most successful.
"Permitless carry simply allows a person to carry without permission from the state," Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said Thursday while presenting the bill on the Senate floor.
Of the trio of bills in play, the Tennessee Firearms Association describes SB 765 as the tamest, pointing out that it's limited generally to those aged 21 and up, and it prohibits carrying any firearms other than those defined as a "handgun" under Tennessee law.
"In sum, while the Senate bill certainly moves some ball further down the field, it also stops significantly short of scoring a touchdown that restores fully the rights protected by the Second Amendment," said John Harris, TFA's executive director.
Nonetheless, SB 765 is Republican Gov. Bill Lee's baby and has been pushed rapidly through the Legislature. It is now headed to the state House, where the GOP has a commanding 73-26 majority, which could see it approved in short order if the momentum holds.
Currently, at least 18 states – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming – recognize broad permitless carry rights. Of note, Montana and Utah only joined the club this year.