Lawmakers advance bills aimed at car theft, gun access

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lawmakers passed a new bill in the hopes of reducing the number of car thefts in our state.

Capitol Building In Nashville

House Bill 0548 would make it a class a misdemeanor to “possess a device, tool, machine, implement, or other item capable of programming a smart key or key fob with the intent to use it or allow it to be used to commit theft.”

In short, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Torrey Harris, of Memphis, would criminalize key fob simulation.

The bill comes as many states say Kia and Hyundai have failed to address the spike in thefts of their vehicles.

If passed, the new law would take effect on July 1. The bill will make it’s way to the Senate next week.

Meanwhile, the state Senate passed a bill to expand access to guns.

Senate Bill 1503 would allow Tennesseans 18 and older to carry a firearm. Currently, you must be at least 21 to carry.

The bill was introduced after a gun rights group sued Tennessee to allow 18-year-olds to carry firearms.

Several people spoke on the proposed bill on Tuesday.

Those against it shared their concern that lowering the age limit could bring an increase of gun violence, and bring an up-tick of guns in schools.

While those for the bill say if you’re old enough to be drafted, then you should be able to carry a gun.

The Senate Judicial Committee voted to pass the bill on Tuesday seven to two. To become a law, its House counterpart must also passed and be signed by the governor.

Other bills still making their way through Tennessee’s Capitol include:

  • HB0746, which would keep businesses prohibiting weapons. It is to be seen on march 29 in the Civil Justice Committee.
  • HB1245, which would allow the firing squad for death row. Placed behind the budget in the House and passed with amendment/s to Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee in the Senate.
  • HB 1269, which would protect a teacher’s right to misgender a student. Placed behind the budget in the House and is set to be discussed in Senate Education Committee on March 29.
  • HB0044, which would allow cities in several counties to hold a referendum on alcohol sales. Passed in the House and in the Senate, sent to the Senate Calendar Committee after being recommended to pass.

You can find more news from across the state here.

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