MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Governor Bill Lee has introduced legislation to make Tennessee a “Constitutional Carry” state, meaning you wouldn’t need to have a permit or take a test to carry a firearm.
"While we’re gearing up as a nation to combat the coronavirus, our state reps and our leaders are ignoring the epidemic of gun violence that we have in our communities,” said Michael Rallings, Memphis Police Department Director.
Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings held a news conference Thursday, slamming Tennessee Governor Bill Lee's proposal that would allow law-abiding Tennesseans over 21 to carry a gun without a permit.
"This legislation is abut increasing freedom for law abiding citizens and implementing harsher penalties for criminals,” said Gov. Lee.
“Maybe the governor doesn’t know that the AG of the U.S. thought enough to come to Memphis to talk about violent crime. Most of the violent crime is gun crime," said Rallings.
Governor Lee's proposed bill would prohibit restricted people, like felons, from carrying. Lawmakers say the permitting process in place now puts an unnecessary burden on lawful gun owners.
“In this proliferation of guns, puts guns in the hands of children who are attempting to and committing carjackings, armed robberies, aggravated assaults, murders," said Rallings.
The governor's proposal would make theft of a firearm a felony and increase minimum sentences. It also includes sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm from a car.
Gun thefts in Memphis have soared since 2014 when state lawmakers allowed gun owners to keep loaded weapons in their cars without a state handgun permit.
Director Rallings has a prediction if the bill passed.
"I predict if this is passed, you'll see an increase in gun violence here in Memphis and across the state,” said Rallings.
Director Rallings said he has asked for a meeting with Governor Lee.