The idea of a lawsuit over a permitless carry law isn’t surprising. After all, both sides of the gun debate routinely file lawsuits when a bill they don’t like passes. It’s kind of the natural order of things these days, isn’t it?
However, when something like permitless carry passes, you expect the anti-gunners to challenge the law. They won’t like it and they will do everything they can to oppose it.
The thing is, in Tennessee, they’re not the ones filing the lawsuit.
A federal lawsuit has been filed challenging Tennessee’s new permitless handgun-carry law, which starting July 1 would allow most adults to carry the weapons in public without having firearms training, undergoing state criminal background checks or having state-issued carry permits.
But the lawsuit doesn’t come from any group opposed to the carrying of handguns publicly without a permit.
Rather, the Sacramento, Calif.-based Firearms Policy Coalition, which says it is staunchly pro-gun rights, sued April 22 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee on behalf of three Knox County residents.
Their civil rights complaint states that Gov. Bill Lee’s initiative doesn’t go far enough and has federal constitutional problems with regard to age requirements in light of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the 14th Amendment right to equal protection.
All three men of the men listed in the lawsuit say they are ages 18, 19 or 20 and can’t lawfully carry a handgun under the new statute, Public Chapter 108. The law restricts permitless carry to persons ages 21 and older. But it creates an exception for current members of the military or former service members who are under age 21 and have been honorably discharged from the military.
I get it. Frankly, the law shouldn’t make such an exception, but as things stand right now, people under 21 can’t get a permit either, which is why I’m not sure why this would hit just now. It would seem the ideal time to challenge such a law would have been when there was a permitting requirement.
But, then again, this isn’t one of those lawsuits where there’s a ton to lose.
At worst, the law will stand as it is. At best, the courts will rule that the Second Amendment does, indeed, apply to legal adults under the age of 21. That would be a nice win for folks in Tennessee, to say the least, but since it’s a federal lawsuit, this could make things better for folks throughout the nation.
The only thing overly weird about this to me is the timing. The permitless carry bill just passed. I don’t even think it’s gone into effect yet. So why right now? Again, it would seem to me it would have made more sense to hit this months ago when permits were still required but the court’s makeup was more favorable. Then the law could have been written in such a way that it took an earlier ruling into account.
But they didn’t.
Oh well. Better late than never.
While it may seem like I’m critical over this, I’m really not. It doesn’t matter why they waited because what they’re trying to do is a good thing. I wish them the best of luck.