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The First Decade Of The Tennessee Handgun Permit Law Shows Very Good Results By Legally Armed Citizens In Tennessee

200,000+ Legally Armed Citizens And The Numbers Continue To Grow!

2004 marks the first decade for some states that enacted a permit or license law.  One of these states is Tennessee.  Like most states that have enacted a law allowing their law abiding state residents the ability to carry defensive weapons, outcry from the liberal media and some of the general public was against the laws being enacted.  "The streets will run red with the blood of innocent people", "The police should be allowed to carry guns and no one else", "Why do people think they need to carry guns for their self-protection?  Isn't that why we pay the police?".  These were the types of comments and headlines that appeared when states considered legislation allowing law abiding citizens to carry defensive weapons.  Have these comments and outcries been fulfilled or, has history shown a different story?  The most accurate way to find out how the laws have worked is to look at the data from the regulatory agency for the state, and County Sheriffs.  This has been done in Tennessee and the information in this article comes from the research done on this subject for a book that will be published in September 2004.

Incident Rates Over The First Ten Years

The Tennessee Handgun Permit Law took effect in 1994.  From 1994 to 2004, over 200,000+ law abiding residents of Tennessee have obtained a handgun permit.  Tennessee residents  still submit about 2,000 new applications every month [Tennessee Department of Safety statistics].  With this many individuals having the authorization to carry handguns, what does the incident rate like over the first ten years?

www.legallyarmed.com has conducted research for a new publication to be released in September 2004, on the subject of the first ten years of the Tennessee Handgun Permit Law.  Data obtained from the Tennessee Department of Safety, the regulatory agency for the handgun permits, shows that less than 1 % of permits have been rescinded from active permit holders.  Even the ones that have been taken back shows that the majority of the incidents occurred before the person was issued a Tennessee Handgun Permit.  This occasionally happens because the state of Tennessee has ninety (90) days to issue the handgun permit.  If the Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.) is not able to complete their part of the investigation during this ninety day period, the handgun permit is issued.  As a result of this, if a person does not have any criminal history on the local level and the local investigation has resulted in a clean record, the permit is issued.  When the F.B.I. fingerprint investigation is completed, and it reveals that the applicant has some incident in their background that would exclude them from obtaining a Tennessee Handgun Permit, the Tennessee Department of Safety rescinds the handgun permit when they are notified.  When this occurs, it looks like a person committed a crime or has committed some act after they received their permit.  However, in most of these situations, the act that disqualified them from receiving the Tennessee Handgun Permit occurred before they submitted an application, not after they received their permit.  If this information were available to the Tennessee Department of Safety at the time the application was submitted, the person would never have been issued a handgun permit.  In the majority of these incidents, the person lied on the application and could be charged with perjury. Very few incidents, compared to the total number of active Tennessee Handgun Permits, shows crimes or incidents being committed after the person had received their handgun permit.  They do exist but, it is a very small percentage, less than 1/2 of 1% of the total number of permits issued.

Sheriffs Comment On Legally Armed Citizens

Although data reflects very few incidents regarding actual crimes resulting in a Tennessee Handgun Permit being rescinded, there is another office that needed to be researched in order to have a more complete picture regarding how successful or un-successful the handgun permit law has worked.  This is the office of Sheriff.  In the majority of counties in Tennessee, the Sheriff is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in that county.  Only in Davidson County that includes Nashville, is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer the Chief of Police in that county.  This is because of the type of Metropolitan Government that exists in this county.  All the other ninety-four counties in Tennessee have the Sheriff as the Chief law Enforcement Officer (there are 95 Tennessee Counties).

Comments from the Sheriffs is important because if criminal incidents exist, their office would be aware of them and if other problems occurred, Sheriffs would probably know about them.  The other problems could occur that might have no criminal charges attached to them but, if they occurred by a Tennessee Handgun Permit Holder, or by another party authorized by law to carry in Tennessee from another state (reciprocity), the Sheriff would know about this if it occurred in their county

Here are comments from two Sheriffs in Tennessee regarding the Tennessee Handgun Permit Law & permit holders:


Sheriff Dan Gilley / Bradley County Tennessee

" To my knowledge, there have been very few incidents state wide involving abuses of the permit system.  I consider the ability to defend oneself as a quality of life issue.  I tell our handgun classes as part of my instruction, that the chances they will ever have to use their handgun in an act of self-defense are actually very slight.  I add however; that if having the ability to defend oneself close at hand gives the permit holder a sense of security and helps overcome their fear of crime, then the mission of the law has been realized, and the quality of life for the permit holder has been enhanced significantly.  The day I leave office, I will have a brand new handgun permit in my wallet."

Bradley County Tennessee Statistics

Population:  87,965

# of Bradley County Residents With Handgun Permits:  2,880

% Of County Residents With Handgun Permits:  3%

Rank In Tennessee As To Number Of Handgun Permit Holders In County:  13


Sheriff Tom Wall / Dickson County Tennessee



" The armed citizens in Dickson County have proven that "GUNS" are not the problem, "CRIMINALS" are.  We have had 0 violations by handgun permit holders.  The more armed citizens we have, the safer our country will be."

Dickson County Tennessee Statistics

Population:  43,156

# Of Dickson County Residents With Handgun Permits:  1,227

% Of County Residents With Handgun Permits:  3%

Rank In Tennessee As To The Number Of Handgun Permit Holders In County:  33 

The comments by these two Sheriffs mirror the majority of Sheriffs who responded to the survey we asked in our research.  Comments by other Sheriffs in Tennessee and other states will be published when the research is completed and the new publication released sometime in September 2004.

The Five Leading Tennessee Counties As To The Number Of Handgun Permit Holders*:

Shelby County # 1

County Permit Holders: 24,942   

Davidson County # 2

County Permit Holders: 11,653

Knox County # 3

County Permit Holders: 8,442

Hamilton County # 4

County Permit Holders: 7,900

Rutherford County # 5

County Permit Holders:  4,922

*The above figures were obtained from the Tennessee Department of Safety and reflect  the total number of handgun permit holders in each county in January 2004.  There were no duplicate permits included in any of the county figures we researched.

Self-Defense Incidents Also Reflect Good Results

One area that always surfaces when a state attempts to implement a self-defense law, is the number of innocent people who might be harmed by legally armed citizens.  Has the ten year history in Tennessee shown this area to be like what was warned or, has it shown a different history?

There are no incidents that can be found where in a defensive incident a Tennessee Handgun Permit Holder shot or wounded in some manner, any innocent person.  There are a number of defensive incidents where a Tennessee Handgun Permit Holder used his or her pistol to defend themselves or another party but, only the aggressor was harmed.

An example of what the Tennessee Handgun Permit Holders faced during their brief deadly encounter are almost all similar to this incident that occurred with Mr. Bobby Holland who was attempting to use a ATM at Union Planters Bank in Memphis, Tennessee.  While standing at the ATM, he noticed the reflection of two individuals approaching him from behind.  He then heard the words that provoke fear in almost every person, "Give us your money or we will kill you!".  One of the men was holding a pistol aimed at Mr. Holland.  Since there had been a number of armed robberies at ATM's in Memphis and some ending with the victims shot even after they gave the armed robber their cash, Mr. Holland decided to defend himself instead of just allowing these thugs to shoot him.

Mr. Holland began to turn while drawing his pistol.  Doing this he was able to draw and fire his gun before the attackers knew what he was up to.  The average thug, criminal, or terrorist, does not think their victim is armed.  If they did, they would wait for a victim they knew was not armed.  Mr. Holland was able to fire his pistol before the attackers were able to react.  One of the robbers Mr. Michael Hutchison age 31 at the time of the incident, was shot in the abdomen and his thigh.  His accomplice Mr. Anelto Sosa was shot in the leg.  Mr. Hutchison was found at the scene of the attempted armed robbery, and Mr. Sosa was arrested at a local hospital where he was attempting to receive treatment for a shooting he said was an accident.  Both Mr. Sosa and Hutchison were arrested, and charged with attempted felony [ I.e. attempted armed robbery].

In this incident, Mr. Holland could have continued to fire his gun and spray the whole neighborhood.  However, he only fired the shot that hit both men [ the shot that his Mr. Hutchison was the same shot that his Mr. Sosa ]. This is about the same type of action that reflects the majority of defensive shootings that have occurred in Tennessee.  The victims who possessed a Tennessee Handgun Permit have shown good judgment in the number of shots fired, and good placement with the shots that were fired.  A number of law enforcement officers and others lean to the required handgun permit training that is mandatory before a person can receive a Tennessee Handgun Permit, as a reason for very little problems as to bad shooting incidents.

Handgun Permit Holders Still Law Abiding Citizens

All indicators reflect that the majority of people who have obtained a Tennessee Handgun Permit are still law abiding citizens.  Few desire to carry their handgun all the time but, almost all of them do when they travel.  This is reflected in the publications we sell at  www.legallyarmed.com .  We produce legally armed state travel guides for every state that has some form of concealed carry law or another type of weapon carry law.  After the attacks of 9-11, the majority of legally armed citizens carry their weapons with them all the time.  This includes all trips taken out of their home state.  Knowing the states that honor their resident license or permit is important, especially the rules and regulations of these states where they are legal to carry their handguns.  Orders and comments from legally armed citizens all over America shows us that the majority of these people find it important to take their handguns with them when traveling.  As law abiding citizens, they want to know the rules and restrictions on carrying in other states so that they can remain law abiding legally armed citizens.  If they didn't care about these laws, they would be more like the thugs, criminals, and terrorists of the world who don't care about any laws until they are caught.  Unfortunately, because of so many restrictions on legally armed citizens, the odds go up on the side of the criminals in locations that do not allow weapons to be carried by law abiding legally armed citizens.  Again, the people who want to commit the crimes or terror don't care and can look at these locations as sanctuaries where their acts of terror  will face no resistance.

If you are a legally armed citizen and would like to obtain our legally armed travel guide for your resident state, click here to view our legally armed state travel guides.

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Thank you for your time and assistance.

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