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Bill to allow people to openly carry guns in public without permits defeated in Tenn. House

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — A bill seeking to allow Tennesseans to openly carry firearms in public without permits was overwhelmingly defeated a House subcommittee on Monday night.

The House Finance Subcommittee voted 10-1 against the measure sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss. The Jonesborough Republican later told reporters that he will abandon an effort to bypass committees and call the bill for a full floor vote.

"I'm going to withdraw that, because they killed it fairly," Van Huss said. "They killed it fair and square."

The unusual step of calling a bill directly to a floor vote would have required the support of 66 representatives in the 99-member chamber.

Under current law, permit holders who undergo background checks and special training can carry firearms both openly and concealed. The bill sponsored by Van Huss would have allowed firearms to be carried openly by anyone legally allowed to own a gun.

The full Senate had passed its version of the bill on a 25-2 vote last week.

The House panel voted down the bill after first adopting an amendment that stripped out projected $100,000 cost estimate for changing the wording on carry permits that Van Huss and other supporters had labeled "bogus."

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons defended the need for re-writing the permits if the legislation became law.

"We think it is very important for the permit carrier, for the public and for law enforcement to clearly understand the limitations of the handgun carry permit," Gibbons told the panel.

Gibbons also warned that reciprocity agreements with other states could be harmed if Tennessee changes its handgun carry permit rules.

Rep. David Alexander, who voted against the bill, said he saw "no compelling reason" to pass the open carry bill.

"I believe Tennessee's gun laws are common-sense gun laws, and I think they strike that balance that we strive to in maintaining the individual rights and the safety of the citizens," he said.

The only member of the House Finance Subcommittee to vote for the bill was Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville.

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