The Volunteer State stands to become the 19th in the country to adopt permitless carry protections as Republican Gov. Bill Lee is considering a bill sent to him this week by Tennessee lawmakers. 

The state House on Monday approved SB 765 in a 64-29 vote, largely along party lines with a handful of Republicans jumping ship to vote against it. The bill recognizes the right of law-abiding adults in the state who are eligible to possess a handgun to carry one openly or concealed without a permit. 

The bill was sponsored by key Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth, who have worked for it since Gov. Lee announced it last month in a press conference. 

“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Lee.

The measure was backed by the NRA, who says, "Tennesseans will finally be able to utilize their right to self-defense without government red tape or delays," once Lee signs it into law. 

During its legislative process, SB 765 was criticized by local pro-gun groups because – compared to other measures filed this session – it does not cover most adults under the age of 21 or include rifles and shotguns. Several last-minute amendments to the bill failed on Monday, but supporters of the proposal say it is a good start. 

"This bill is not the end of the journey," said Lamberth. "This is a massive step forward for freedom."

Depending on the timing of Lee's signature on SB 765, Tennessee should become at least the 19th state to recognize broad permitless concealed carry rights. In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has voiced support for the Second Amendment in the past, is considering a similar measure sent to her desk by lawmakers earlier this month and may beat Lee to the punch. 

Permitless carry bills are currently being weighed in at least six other states. Both Montana and Utah have already adopted the practice so far this year.

Banner photo: S&W 645 by Chris Eger

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