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Tennessee eyes 18+ gun-carry age with court or Capitol deal

From NewsChannel 9: Two years after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee led the charge to allow residents 21 and older to carry handguns in public without a permit, younger adults could soon have the same privilege, with or without the governor’s signoff.


A gun rights group sued after the law was passed in 2021, arguing that the age limit should be lower. Then late last year, the state’s top lawyer moved to negotiate a settlement rather than defend the law, citing last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights. In January, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti proposed a deal that would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to carry handguns publicly.


Skrmetti’s proposed settlement concludes that Tennessee’s current age range violates the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd and 14th Amendments.


For their part, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are considering lowering the age limit themselves so the attorney general’s proposal isn’t just mandated on them through the court system. Legislation to do so passed the House, but not the Senate last year.


Tennessee has made it a point to pass gun-friendly laws. Gun owners seeking permits must go through training and receive a background check —but the permits themselves became optional with the 2021 law. In addition, 18- to 20-year-olds can already own handguns, they just generally can’t carry them publicly — with or without a permit. Young adults with military backgrounds may do so, however.