Advancing 2A Rights After Constitutional Carry

Townhall Media

With Constitutional Carry now on the books in 29 states, there's a real question about how to continue supporting and strengthening the right to keep and bear arms. Some pro-2A lawmakers in Tennessee decided to take aim at "gun-free zones" this session, but their bill failed to make it out of a Senate committee on Tuesday after objections from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, and the state's Department of Safety. 


A bill that would have effectively let some people bring guns into places where guns are prohibited, as long as they had a concealed carry permit, failed in a Senate committee on March 26. 

SB 2180 would have required those people, if asked to leave, to at least take their guns out of the building or else face a criminal trespassing charge. They also would not have faced penalties for violating postings that prohibit guns from the area.


During the meeting, the department said the bill may have effectively protected people who bring guns into areas like Department of Children's Services offices, jails or driver's license centers. The department also said it was concerned people at businesses that prohibit guns may need to confront armed people themselves.

If armed people didn't leave the business, or take their guns outside, then the business would need to wait for law enforcement to arrive.

Republican lawmakers said they were worried making people leave guns in their cars may increase the chance they are stolen.

"I think most people who are concealed probably ignore the sign, and I think 100% of criminals ignore the sign," said Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield). "What I'm really getting at is this, which is a bigger issue — someone to leave their gun in a car for it to be potentially stolen, or to bring it with them?"

Robert's argument is a valid one, but the legislation still arguably intrudes on the rights of property owners. So what, if anything, can lawmakers to do keep strengthening our Second Amendment rights once they've put Constitutional Carry in place? 


On today's Bearing Arms Cam & Co, however, we have a few suggestions for legislators that stand a better chance of getting enacted into law; including one that might be even more effective at getting rid of "gun-free zones" on private property. 

In Georgia, a bill was introduced this session that would allow private property owners to bar guns from their premises if they want, but they'd have to assume liability for the safety of any lawful gun owner who's forbidden from carrying in their establishment. I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce crowd would still have their objections to this proposal, but it seems like a much more common-sense approach than telling property owners that they really can't prohibit firearms if they desire. Let them ban concealed carry all they like. But if you're not going to allow people to exercise their Second Amendment rights in self-defense when they're in your business, it's up to you to guarantee their safety. 

Tennessee lawmakers could make another major improvement to the status quo by offering up an amendment to the state constitution. Article 1, Section 26 of the Tennessee constitution states "That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime." 

That language was adopted in 1870, and I'd say it could use a little updating. Why not borrow the language that Kansas lawmakers are proposing to update their own state constitution? 


A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose, and such right includes the possession and use of ammunition, firearm accessories and firearm components; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.  

The right to keep and bear arms is a natural and fundamental right. This right shall not be infringed. Any restriction of such right shall be subject to the strict scrutiny standard.

That would offer far stronger protections than Tennessee's current language, and I have no doubt that the amendment would be approved by a majority of Tennessee voters. Donald Trump won the state in 2020 with 60% of the vote, and I suspect that the support for a pro-2A constitutionally amendment would garner at least that much support, if not more. 

Finally, lawmakers in Nashville could look to their counterparts in Wyoming for inspiration. A couple of years ago the state established the Firearms Research Center at the University of Wyoming Law School in an effort to counter the growing number of anti-gun academic institutions like the University of Minnesota Law School's Gun Violence Prevention Clinic and the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. According to the Firearms Research Center's website, its mission is to "establish more voices in the firearms discussion, create a pipeline of graduates prepared to serve as firearms lawyers, and act as a reliable, non-partisan resource for firearms-related information." 


We could use a lot more of these programs in higher ed, and Tennessee seems like it would be a natural fit given the pro-gun bent of the state. Heck, legislators might even be able to convince UT-Knoxville law professor Glenn Reynolds to head up the effort. 

Constitutional Carry doesn't have to be the last pro-2A piece of legislation adopted in Second Amendment-friendly states. There's still plenty of room for improvement, and I believe these suggestions would offer substantial benefits to gun owners... not just in Tennessee, but in other red states where lawmakers may be struggling to come up with new measures to advance and protect our right to keep and bear arms. 

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