“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
The Tennessee Senate overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the state’s gun carry law with a bill that would effectively allow even more people to carry a gun in plain view.
What remains perplexing, however, is why. There doesn’t appear to be an overwhelming outcry from the public for these changes. In fact, on the surface, it appears the handgun carry law in place works just fine.
Take, for example, a 2012 report from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security that said more than 114,000 handgun permits were issued across the state that year alone. In fact, Mt. Juliet ranked fifth among cities across the state for the most handgun permits issued in 2012 with 1,075.
With the fifth most handgun permits in the state, there
are no protests or public outcry in Mt. Juliet for changing the handgun carry law currently on the books.
What is tied to our current law, however, is revenue. The same report said in 2012, handgun permits accounted for more than $7.65 million in revenue statewide.
Wouldn’t it stand to reason, if the law were changed to no longer require handgun permits for openly carried guns, that revenue would be considerably less? Even if handgun permits were required for concealed carry as the proposed bill said, it’s a pretty good assumption many would opt for the free route as opposed to going through firearm safety training, a criminal background check and $115 fee.
Then there is the training requirement itself. There’s potentially an increased danger in allowing anyone to own and openly carry a handgun without it.
There is also a general comfort factor that goes along with the scenario should this bill become law. There would certainly be some people who would find it distracting, at the least, to see a person carrying a handgun in a restaurant or grocery store.
Take, for instance, how it would affect other laws – especially those that protect law-abiding citizens from criminals. Imagine a scenario where a police officer is forced to make a quick decision as to whether a person is lawfully carrying a handgun or could be a convicted felon unable to be reformed with a laundry list of offenses already committed. The inability to act immediately to disarm this person could mean the difference between life and death.
Lebanon and Wilson County’s law enforcement top officials have spoken out on the potential dangers of this law with those who seek to take advantage of it.
Certainly, the U.S. Constitution – which should be defended without question – gives us the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But this proposed bill may just cause more problems than solutions, especially when there is nothing in the current law that needs correction.
Freedoms afforded to us in America must stop short of public safety, and the proposed changes in this bill are the antithesis of that fact. Then enters the definition of anarchy.
Of course, it would be nice if everyone would respect the added freedom these proposed changes in law provides. That would be a perfect society. But our society is far from perfect, and there’s simply too much liability in such progressiveness. Failure to see that is difficult to imagine, but what’s even more unrealistic is how the bill got this far in the first place.
The bill still has to clear the state House and Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk before it becomes law. Let’s hope the realities of this bill can be realized during that time.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.