Permitless carry law begins in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Permitless carry begins in Tennessee July 1, allowing most adults to carry a gun without a concealed weapons permit.

Some community leaders in Memphis are concerned about the new law and its potential impact on crime.

Some officials, including law enforcement, have worried about the law since talks about permitless carry in the state began.

Gun violence is a growing problem in the area, and the city saw a record number of homicides in 2020.

MORE: Memphis Police Director says permitless carry is a bad idea

Leaders say they want more restrictions on access to guns.

Former Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said the new law will only add to the violence in Memphis.

“I think permitless carry is bad for Memphis. I don’t see how it is such a great thing for the state of Tennessee when the state of Tennessee leads the nation in violence, one of the top three in violence, especially violence against children,” he said.

DeAndre Brown, a community leader in Frayser, said he can only hope people will be responsible.

MORE: Local pastor encourages other churches to add security before permitless carry bill goes into effect

Greater Imani Church in Raleigh recently began beefing up its armed security ahead of the new law to protect parishioners’ cars in the parking lot.

The law increases gun theft to a felony and enhances sentencing for gun theft from cars.

It also increases sentencing for anyone who provides guns to teens.

“It’s Pandora’s box. It’s something new in Memphis and Tennessee and something every citizen should be concerned about,” said Bennie Cobb, Retired SCSO Captain.

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.

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Cobb is a retired Shelby County Sheriff’s captain with more than two decades of experience in law enforcement.

“There’s going to be people picking up guns and not knowing how to operate, the function of the gun and safety,” said Cobb.

The constitutional carry law allows people to bypass the hours-long training course previously needed for a permit.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Any time you decide you’re going to do something you need to learn the rules and safety parameters around that, and that includes learning the law,” said Jonathon Cross, Dauntless Tactical Training.

Cross agreed with this law.

It bars convicted felons from carrying, as well as people convicted of DUIs, people who have been admitted to a mental institute at one point and people under the influence of drugs and or alcohol.

“I know there is a lot of anxiety in the community, but I don’t think the anxiety is warranted,” said Cross.

If you do plan on going out and purchasing a gun, both Cross and Cobb encourage you to have a gun safe or lock, especially if you have children.