Permitless carry takes effect Thursday in Tennessee as mixed reaction continues

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee’s new permitless carry law takes effect Thursday.

Tennessee will become the 19th state to allow citizens to carry a handgun without a permit or training.

Supporters of permitless carry, including Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, say it protects people’s constitutional right to bear arms. Others say they are worried about it, including law enforcement.

The law allows most Tennesseans 21 and older to carry a handgun without a permit or training. Those ages 18 to 20, who are members of the military, can also carry handguns without a permit. But it does not apply to long guns.

It also does not apply to convicted felons or those convicted of domestic violence, stalking, recent DUIs, or those who have been committed to a mental institution by court order.

The law also has provisions that increase penalties for certain gun crimes. Gun thefts, for instance, will now be considered a felony with a mandatory six-month sentence instead of 30 days.

Felons with gun convictions won’t be allowed early release under the law. Business and property owners will still be allowed to prohibit guns. Guns won’t be allowed in courthouses, schools, and other government buildings

Even with those provisions, some people worry about what it will mean for gun violence in Memphis.

The city has already seen 128 murders this year, 17 more than this time last year.

“While this city opposed this legislation, it’s going to happen, and we need to be prepared for it,” said Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis.

Davis says law enforcement is training to deal with this new law but will need the public’s help reducing violence.

For instance, she says much of the violence in Memphis is committed by criminals using guns stolen from cars.

The Memphis Police Department urges gun owners to secure their weapons.

“More than 40 percent of guns used in crimes are stolen from vehicles of law-abiding citizens,” Davis said. “The police department is here to protect, and we’re here to serve. But we can’t do this alone. We need your help.”

WMC Action News 5 checked police data and found there have been 3,075 reported thefts from cars this year. Guns were among many of the items stolen.

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