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Department of Safety, the regulatory agency for the handgun permits, shows that less than 1 % of permits have been rescinded from active permit holders.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: