New legislation geared at reducing the costs of and lengthening the expiration dates for handgun permits went into effect on Jan. 1. However, many proponents of the so-called ‘Constitutional carry’ law say the adoption last April of HB – TN-1424 is nothing more than a ‘pacifier’ to those who want new state legislation that will allow the carrying of handguns without need for a permit.
The bill, as adopted, changes the basic initial fee from $115 to $100 and lengthens the duration of the permit to eight years.
The piece of legislation also reduces the cost of the lifetime permit from $500 to $200.
Under the new law, a first-time applicant of a lifetime permit will pay a total of $300. Those renewing their permits could go one of two ways – pay the $200 for a lifetime renewal or $50 for an eight-year permit.
Doing the math, it will take about 32 years to ‘break even,’ if an applicant decides to go with the lifetime permit.
A couple of caveats could sway ‘lifetimers’ to opt for the standard eight-year permit. Apparently, all Tennessee gun permits become void once a resident moves out of state, no matter the length of departure.
An additional fee is required if that person moves back into the state and wants their permit reinstated, even though it has not technically expired.
If a person currently holds a handgun permit, he or she cannot apply for a lifetime one until the existing permit is within six months of its expiration date, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety.
Certain ‘pro-second amendment rights’ organizations, like the Tennessee Firearms Association, are banding together to push for laws that will allow citizens to carry concealed handguns without virtue of a permit.
Proponents of the Constitutional conceal legislation seem to agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a ‘natural-born right’ to self defense and that defending oneself includes the freedom to carry a firearm without having to ‘ask’ the government.
There are currently four states that have passed this type of legislation – Missouri, Mississippi, West Virginia and Idaho.
Missouri, which enacted its Constitutional conceal legislation late last year, mandated in its law 17 specific areas as ‘no carry zones.’ Included in the list are churches, airports, sports arenas, courthouses, liquor stores, schools, hospitals and polling places during elections.
Certain organizations in Missouri, who lobbied against the law, maintain that the new legislation gives violent criminals, repeat drug offenders and people with no firearms safety training permission to freely carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.
On the other side of the coin, proponents like president-elect Donald Trump voiced approval during his campaign for legislation to allow state-issued gun permits to be deemed valid across state borders.
Texas republican senator John Cornyn introduced a bill last year that would require every state to recognize a gun carry permit issued from another state.
According to 2015 statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), violent crimes are up by about four percent with an 11 percent rise in homicides – stats that are possibly fueling the push for non-permit carry laws in many states.
During the Obama administration, handgun carry permit issuances have increased from some six million to nearly 15 million. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, more than six percent of all adults in the United States now carry a concealed weapon.
Writer’s note: Certain data from the Tennessee Firearms Association and the Washington Times was used in composing this article. Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.