Handgun-carry permits up across Tennessee

Handgun-carry permits up across Tennessee

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By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

TAZEWELL (WATE) - The number of Tennesseans licensed by the state to carry handguns has jumped 23 percent over the last year. Some local gun shop owners are feeling the effects.

For one, sales have been up at Mike's Gun Shop in Tazewell. "Maybe 10 percent or 20 percent over normal which is good for us," says owner Michael Bussell.

He says he's not surprised to hear the latest statistics that represent what he refers to as the gun rush.

As of January, 268,711 Tennesseans were licensed to carry handguns, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety.

That number is up from 218,004 in January 2009. It's an increase of nearly 51,000 in just one year.

"Most people want a home gun or a defense gun, something they can carry, that's not heavy and that's simple," Bussell explains.

In Claiborne County, where Bussell has run his shop for years, there are 1,785 permit holders.

But what may surprise some people is the number of permit holders in Knox County, 17,249. The county is number two in the state for permit holders.

As for a prediction into where these figures will go, Bussell says, "We're going to plane. I think it'll plane out and settle off."

Handgun-carry permits are also top of mind in Nashville. Tennessee legislators are considering dozens of bills.

A few bills, if passed, would expand the places were permit holders could bring their guns, such as in more bars and restaurants, wildlife management areas, or in public parks and playgrounds where guns are now prohibited.

Other bills would make it easier to get handgun carry permits and give more privacy to permit holders.

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