New gun law at center of controversy in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s official. Just about anyone over 21 in Tennessee can carry a handgun without a permit.

This new law has been the center of controversy since it was passed and some people are concerned this may lead to poor police encounters.

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Police shared they are briefing officers on the new law.

”I’m a little concerned about it. I have my carry permit, but then I had a class. And that’s what needs to be done,” said Carolyn Walter, Memphis resident.

Just about anyone at least 21 years old, or 18 and above if serving in the military, can now open or conceal carry a handgun without a permit in Tennessee.

And a lot of people don’t agree.

”No training, just going to be a lot of people running around with guns. And they use that to solve their problem,” said Mark Thornton, Memphis resident.

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The constitutional carry law allows people to bypass the hours-long training course previously needed for a permit, pushing some to believe this may open the door for Black people to have poor police encounters.

“Police are on high alert and I think there will be issues whenever a Black man is stopped. They will automatically think he has a gun,” said Lisa Hassell, Memphis resident.

Assistant Chief of police Don Crowe with the Memphis Police Department said all officers received new training material to make sure all officers are familiar with the new law.

”Under the permitless carry, I think the assumption is you are carrying the handgun legally and our officers will need further information to conduct an investigation,” said Crowe.

Not everyone can carry.

The law bars convicted felons from carrying, as well as people convicted of DUIs.

You also can’t carry in businesses that prohibit firearms.