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Permitless Carry in Tennessee Concerns Police

A Tennessee law that went into effect on July 1, 2021, allows Tennessee residents to carry firearms without the need for a permit. Permitless carry in Tennessee has its proponents and its critics.

Originally designed to limit carry to age 21 or older, now Tennesseans aged 18 to 20 will be allowed to carry concealed firearms in public under the state’s permitless gun carry law. Also some recently proposed bills being considered by the state’s House of Representatives could extend the permitless carry rules to apply the rule to shotguns and rifles as well and allow concealed carry in areas currently listed as prohibited.

But while those changes are being considered, there has been some pushback from law enforcement officials.

Law Enforcement Apprehension

Concealed carry with a permit has long been established law in the state of Tennessee, but concern has been raised by some law enforcement professionals about the potential challenges the new law could create for the communities.

The Memphis Chief of Police has gone on record encouraging citizens to seek out training in the ownership, usage, and care of a firearm. The 2021 law allows individuals to carry a loaded handgun on their person, openly or concealed, without having to possess a permit. 

Intended Use and Training

Regardless of how you personally feel about gun rights or the state’s permitless carry laws, seeing a firearm in public always calls attention to the person in possession of the firearm and viewers may wonder about the intended use of the weapon. That is the big reason why law enforcement professionals have been skeptical of the law.

Unlike law enforcement professionals who wear uniforms and carry badges identifying them as law officers, civilians even with permits do not have to physically display the permit on a lanyard or badge. Coupled with the frequency of public mass shootings in the U.S., anyone spotted with a firearm and no identifying marker on their person could be seen as suspicious. It is likely 911 calls will increase, requiring investigation by police, and gun carriers will feel harassed. This may cause an increase in acrimonious exchanges between investigating officers and gun carriers. It could also “waste” officers time, preventing them from investigating more important threats or situations.

The lack of mandatory training and education for Tennessee gun owners because of the permitless carry laws also concerns law enforcement, since they worry gun owners will forego basic gun training and education on the belief such education no longer applies because of the law. Furthermore citizens will not be trained on the permitless carry law, how it applies, and where you are allowed to have your concealed weapon. Uneducated gun carriers will inevitably break the law and not knowing the law does not protect you from arrest and prosecution.

Not a License to Kill

While permitless carry laws may lead to an increase in personal firearm usage and ownership in the state of Tennessee, the new law does not give anyone a license to shoot without taking responsibility for their actions or needing to justify their action if they do decide to shoot someone.

Tennessee does have a Stand Your Ground law that does allow for the use of deadly force in situations where a person has good reason to believe they will be killed or maimed if they do not defend themselves. But even people who claim self defense will have their actions investigated, and they may be arrested if the officers do not believe your choice to shoot was justified. You may need to prove with evidence that you were “standing your ground” legally.

But Tennessee law enforcement is careful when it comes to approving the use of Stand Your Ground as their justification for a shooting. If you are accused of a crime using a weapon and inflicting deadly force, you will need a good lawyer.

Contact Us Today

If you have been arrested for a crime that involved a gun such as Assault, Robbery, or other Violent Crimes, contact the Clarke Law Firm today. David Clarke is a well experienced criminal defense attorney, prepared to take up your case.