Bill that lessens penalty for permit-less gun carry passes Tennessee House

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House has passed legislation that would lower the penalty to $250 for a first offense of toting a gun without a handgun carry permit.

The Republican-led chamber voted 72-20 Monday on the bill. The bill was amended to let officers to confiscate the ammunition, but not necessarily the gun, The Tennessean reported.

Republican bill sponsor Rep. Micah Van Huss said under current law, it’s up to a $500 fine, confiscation of the gun and possible imprisonment.

“I think it’s an important bill to be able to protect Tennesseans who are trying to protect their families, trying protect the evil we’ve all seen from last week,” the newspaper reported Van Huss as saying.

Supporters also pointed to incidents where individuals were carrying a weapon by accident or was found to be in possession of a gun when another crime isn’t being committed.

Democratic Rep. Bo Mitchell said the bill is a “poor example” to the nation. He argued it would essentially give people a pass for breaking state gun laws at a time when the country is mourning the deaths during last month’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

The bill heads to the Republican-led Senate.