Lawmakers push to end permitless carry in Shelby County

Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There is a renewed push to end permitless handgun carry in Shelby County.

A lawmaker from Memphis has a plan to remove the county from the current permitless carry state law that went into effect on July 1, 2021.

Tennessee’s permitless carry law allows the majority of citizens to carry a loaded gun out in the open or concealed without having to get a permit.

Police, mayors and politicians in the Bluff City are in agreement it’s a bad law for Memphis.

Senator London Lamar, a democrat representing District 33 in Memphis, is getting ready to make a big ask of her fellow state lawmakers.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, she filed Senate Bill 0010 which “requires a person to obtain an enhanced or concealed handgun permit to carry a handgun in certain counties,” and those counties are Davidson and Shelby.

“While I know it will be an uphill battle,” Senator Lamar told Action News 5, “right now, we are still dealing with crime in our city. We need to make sure we are holding folks accountable who shouldn’t have guns, and people who can have guns can get them through the appropriate permitting process.”

Former Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings and current Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis are both on record for opposing permitless carry.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner publicly worried that crime would increase after the law was passed. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has also made it clear he is not a fan of permitless carry.

And citizens have expressed frustration with it, too.

“Guns are doing a lot of damage,” said Shelby Countian James Vandergriff, “If you’re going to have a gun, you should have a permit to carry it.”

”It’s not a good idea to me,” Memphian Trayvon Blake said. “You should have a permit if you’re going to carry a gun because nowadays a lot of people have guns and have access to guns.”

Parents Terrance Suggs and Tamerelle Echols taught their son, Torrence, to stay away from guns.

“Guns are dangerous and we shouldn’t even be around them,” the 9-year-old told Action News 5, adding that he’s seen children injured or killed by gunfire on the news, and it upsets him.

His parents said they would like to see the GOP-controlled state legislature give consideration to Senator Lamar’s bill.

”There’s too much violence in Memphis,” said Suggs, “and I think it would be a great thing for the city if we required people to get gun permits.”

“People are really careless with guns,” said Echols. “It’s easy for a child to pick up and get a gun. It’s easy for anyone to get a gun. We do need those permits.”

Echols said she thinks Senator Lamar’s bill requiring gun permits in Memphis just makes good, common sense.

”We have to do the right thing,” said Senator Lamar, “We have to be responsible. And we as a city have to come together, decide that we love one another and love our city and choose to do the right thing and hold people accountable to make sure they are doing the right thing, too.”

State lawmakers return to Nashville for the start of the next legislative session on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

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