Open carry constitutional

(The Center Square) — A national gun policy group amended its complaint against the state of Tennessee seeking to allow those between 18 and 20 to openly carry firearms.

The amendment comes after the Firearms Policy Coalition won a similar case in Texas in late August.

"The State cannot carry its burden of proving the existence of 'a distinctly similar historical regulation' that burdened the right to bear arms in the same way and for the same reasons," argues the complaint. "Instead, the relevant historical evidence weighs heavily in favor of upholding the right to carry loaded handguns in public for 18-to-20-year-olds, just the same as for those who are 21 years and older.

"They are squarely among 'the people' for whom the Second Amendment guarantees were created. They were not only allowed to keep and bear arms without any restriction but required to do so during the Founding era that shaped the liberties enshrined in the Amendment."

Last year, Tennessee's House passed a bill that would have lowered the age to open carry to 18 in the state but the companion bill then died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, sponsored the bill in the House.

"This is strictly to get our law in compliance with the Constitution of the United States of America," Todd said during debate on the bill.

The bill was opposed by the Tennessee Department of Public Safety in committee as it was pointed out by Elizabeth Stroecker, legislative director for the Department of Public Safety, that it could threaten the reciprocity of concealed handgun permits for Tennessee residents.

But Todd previously said 25 states have continued to honor reciprocity for 18-year-olds from Tennessee since the exception for 18-year-olds was created. He said 11 others allow reciprocity but exclude 18 to 20-year-olds, with 12 states refusing reciprocity.

"Just two weeks ago in the FPC-led case Andrews v. McCraw, a federal district judge in Texas concluded that the Constitution demands the restoration of the right to bear arms to the young adults of that state," said FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack. "With today's filing in Beeler, the Eastern District of Tennessee now has the opportunity to properly apply Bruen and reach the same conclusion."

The FPC currently has similar suits against the U.S. government and in Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota and Georgia.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.