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Shelby County Sheriff’s Office prepares for first permitless carry safety class

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 4:01 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - July 1, 2021 is a date many Tennessee law enforcement agencies have circled on their calendar, the day when permitless carry becomes legal in the state.

“I’m not against the second amendment,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner. “But I am against citizens carrying a weapon without training, proper training.”

Shortly after the legislation was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, Bonner and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office leaders decided to hold safety courses for the public at the Shelby County Sheriff Training Academy.

The first course is Saturday, May 22.

“If we’re going to carry weapons, then we’re going to have class, try to teach citizens how to properly carry and how to stay safe,” Bonner said.

“We have put on some handgun carry permit classes before, in the past, but it hasn’t been this size or magnitude,” said SCSO Range Commander Lt. Michael Battle.

Battle has taught classes of 15 to 20, at the most.

Saturday’s course, as well as three more in June, will have 45 students, all slots filling up faster than expected.

“Their (the community’s) response was overwhelming,” Battle said. “This is something that we get to teach regular deputies all the time. Now, we get to teach the general public on proper firearms handling.”

There won’t be any live fire in these classes. In fact, no weapons will be allowed in the building.

What these classes will teach involves proper storage, proper carrying and proper interaction with law enforcement.

“We will go over state laws about deadly force, when you can and when you cannot use deadly force,” Bonner said. “That is so important for our citizens to understand when you carry a weapon, but there’s also a lot of responsibility in carrying a weapon.”

The Shelby County sheriff said additional training may be in the future for his deputies, teaching them on how to interact with citizens who open carry, a situation that’s more likely to happen after July 1.

Both Bonner and Battle say these classes also provide an opportunity for citizens to interact and build connections with deputies and the department.

The next three classes are June 5, June 15 and June 19. Though the classes are already booked, they will be recorded and uploaded to the department’s website, giving more people an opportunity to observe the lessons.

Bonner said more classes will be held in the future.

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