MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Tennessee lawmakers have passed legislation allowing residents in the Volunteer State to carry handguns without a carry permit.
So now what?
How will this change affect people living in heavily populated areas like Memphis which is already dealing with crime issues?
We took that question to city and county leaders to get their thoughts about the legislation.
“I’m almost speechless to think that our elected officials have chose special interest over the safety of children and men and women in the state of Tennessee,” Mike Rallings, Memphis Police Director, said.
Rallings also spoke about how this legislation will change policing.
“The police officer has no way of knowing if the individual meets the requirements for a carry permit. The officer can only assume without some other probable cause, the officer would be challenged to confront that individual. So when the governor and the legislature talk about this making Tennessee safer, I don’t see how,” Rallings said.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich says now her team will work between now and July first when the legislation is slated to take effect.
“What impact does it have on pending cases, what impact does it have going forward? It’s really more of a practical impact in terms of law enforcement,” Weirich said.
While Weirich’s office has been part of many in Shelby County opposing the bill, another portion of it came from her office pushing for tougher sentences for people stealing guns.
“For those individuals who are stealing guns and then using those guns to victimize citizens in our state, you’re going to be looking at a longer prison sentence and what we hope that does is serve as a deterrent,” Weirich said.
On Tuesday, Governor Bill Lee doubled down on his belief in the bill and posted on Twitter it protects Tennesseans’ rights while increasing penalties on those who steal or unlawfully possess a firearm.
Mayor Jim Strickland’s office also put out a statement today saying they believe this bill will lead to gun violence in the city.
“As I’ve publicly stated in the past, I do not support this bill. I think it’s bad for Memphis, and I believe it will ultimately lead to an increase in gun violence throughout our city.”Mayor Jim Strickland
It’s unclear when the governor will sign the bill.