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Gun Safety Instructor: ‘Every step we take away from a proper permitting system is a step away from responsible gun ownership.’

February 12, 2020

Gun safety instructor Leroy Farris published an op-ed in The Tennessean on Monday, calling on lawmakers to protect Tennessee’s permitting system this legislative session. Last session, a coalition of gun safety instructors opposed the legislature’s decision to weaken the state’s permitting system. Now some lawmakers are trying to eliminate the requirement for a permit altogether.

Last week, Tennessee lawmakers introduced a permitless carry bill – HB 2661/SB 2888 – that would dismantle the system of responsible gun ownership by allowing people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit and without a background check, taking away a vital tool from law enforcement to make sure people who shouldn’t have guns aren’t carrying them in public. If you’d like to speak with a Tennessee Moms Demand Action volunteer about these bills, don’t hesitate to reach out.

HB 2661/SB 2888 would: 

  • Allow individuals to freely carry loaded, concealed handguns in public spaces without a permit or a background check.
  • Allow individuals without a permit to bring loaded, concealed handguns into sensitive areas, including public parks, nature trails, campgrounds, and other areas where Tennessee children play.
  • Allow full-time employees on college campuses to carry concealed, loaded handguns on campus without a permit.
  • Allow those legally prohibited from possessing a gun, but have bought one from an unlicensed dealer or online without a background check, to freely carry those guns in public.  

In his op-ed, Farris highlighted his experiences as a gun safety instructor and the importance of Tennessee’s permitting system to public safety:

“Responsibilities associated with carrying a concealed firearm in public are weighty. If you’re planning on bearing that responsibility, you should know how to do so safely and have a background check. And based on what I’ve seen in the hundreds of Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit classes that I’ve taught, there are plenty of students who don’t fit the bill without training.

“I’ve seen students who load their magazines backwards, students who can’t safely manipulate their firearm, students who have never shot a handgun before the class – students who can not load, fire, and unload a handgun in a safe manner.

“The last thing that anyone interested in promoting public safety should want is more untrained, unchecked people carrying hidden, loaded handguns in public. Because even with proper, live-range training, it’s still incredibly difficult to effectively and safely aim and fire a gun in a public place and it doesn’t take a gun safety expert to understand that.

“This isn’t a partisan issue, either. Tennesseans agree on this. 93% of recent Tennessee voters, including 92% of Republicans and 91% of gun-owning households, support requiring a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public. Because we all know that if you own a gun, you should know how to use it safely. Tennessee lawmakers would be taking the state further in the wrong direction if they decided to do away with permits entirely.”

Read Leroy’s full op-ed here. More information on gun violence in Tennessee is available here

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