Tennessee Crime Rates And Gun Sales Increase As Efforts Underway To Loosen Gun Permit Laws

Published January 29, 2021

Earlier this week, The Tennessee Conservative covered the proposed changes to gun legislation being brought forth by republican lawmakers in Tennessee.

The goal is to allow concealed carry of an armed handgun to be without a license, background check, or training. The concealed carry permit even required fingerprinting.  

At this time, open carry is legal over the age of 18 with an Enhanced Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (ETHCP) or without a permit if the gun is unloaded and the ammunition is not in the immediate vicinity. 

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Tennessee prohibits the possession of a firearm “with the intent to go armed.”

This may render the purpose of carrying null and void which has led to people questioning the policy and no doubt influenced legislators to push for change. 

The proposition would allow Tennessee to join fifteen other states in the quest for unlicensed concealed carry and Second Amendment protections. 

These updates came not long after we covered new crime rate data that has been released across the state. Many rural and metro areas of our state are some of the most dangerous in the county whether that be violent crime or property loss/damage. 

This raises concerns about self-defense, naturally. Many have suggested that loosening gun laws will make our cities even more dangerous, but as it stands this does not appear to be the trend. 

A multistate study published in 2018 by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that loosening concealed carry permit laws did not lead to more homicides or violent crime.

“You learn real quick that the permit doesn’t make us any safer as a state. It doesn’t reduce crime, it doesn’t make those who decide to carry any more competent or careful when they do carry.”  said Tennessee Firearms Association President John Harris. 

He continued, “It can be quite expensive for an individual, particularly in a time like this, when so many have reduced hours or were even laid off, to go get the permit.”

As these changes are unrolling , Tennesseans can now access and complete a handgun carrying permit training course online. The new permit introduced in 2020 is the ‘concealed only handgun permit,’ which can be acquired through this course for half the cost of the ETHCP and without any hands-on training.

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Opportunities to address these policies couldn’t have come at a better time given the zeitgeist. TSA reported a significant increase in the number of firearms discovered in airports across the state this year with 88% of those discovered being loaded. 

TBI has reported that background checks in 2020 hit a record number, increasing more than 50% since last year. This surpassed the national average, which saw an increase of 40%.

In 2019, an estimated 484,000 background checks were performed in Tennessee for the purpose of providing gun permits. In 2020, the number was more than 740,000. 

“The pandemic, defunding the police, civil unrest — we’ve seen a lot of that this year and a national election,” said TBI Assistant Director Pam Beck. “I think all of those contribute in some way.” 

According to TBI, a total of 818,567 guns were legally purchased in Tennessee in 2020.

In the last ten years, rates of gun-related violence between adults in Tennessee have risen 58% with the rate of youth homicide increasing over 115%. Rates of gun injury have increased 33% since 2010. 

With new policies in place, we should see some changes in such data trends by the end of 2021.

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