On March 29, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 0786 by a vote of 64-29. The Tennessee State Senate version of the same bill, SB 0765, passed on March 18 with a vote of 23-9. Governor Bill Lee signed the bill on April 8, 2021. As such, it is set to take effect July 1, 2021. It is widely called the "Constitutional Carry" bill. As an NRA certified instructor (rifle and pistol), and a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Certified Instructor, I am completely in favor of this legislation.
Some purists may note that this bill is not true "Constitutional Carry," as it does not have provisions for the carry of long guns (such as rifles or shotguns), and it does not provide for carry by most persons aged 18-21, among other restrictions. While the point is valid, it also means that as a matter of technicality, no other state has true "Constitutional Carry" either, as there are also some restrictions in place in the other 18 states that have "Constitutional Carry" as of this writing. Some more correctly call the Tennessee bill "permitless carry." And although "permitless carry" is more linguistically correct, the term "Constitutional Carry" will be used in this letter as a matter of simplicity, as well as a matter of using the most widely known term.
As with most legislation, there are proponents and opponents to the bill. Proponents include many who carry daily, Second Amendment advocates, and freedom-centric individuals. Opponents include most on the Left side of politics, the Tennessee Sheriff's Association, and a small number of carry permit instructors.
As usual, the Left is claiming there will be "blood in the streets" - but this claim is not backed by facts: most states that have adopted Constitutional Carry see decreases in crime rates or no change. The Tennessee Sheriff's Association claims they will not be able to tell if someone with a gun is a "good guy" or a "bad guy;" but this claim is similarly not based in fact as law enforcement will still be able to identify criminals and suspects as they do now.
Those handgun carry permit instructors who oppose the bill no doubt do so out of concern that it will cut into their revenue stream. Perhaps they do not have the means to teach other valuable firearms instructional classes. Perhaps they do not have the means to effectively market their other valuable firearms classes. If you or someone you know fits either of these descriptions, please reach out to me and I will help you change that!
But make no mistake, a single permit class is not enough. Representative William Lamberth had this to say: "If you think one class, one time in your life makes you a perfectly safe firearms owner and user, you don't know firearms!" The Tennessee Enhanced Carry Permit class is not training, it is a safety class. So do not be fooled into thinking that people who would have been trained will now not be trained, that is simply not the case.
A person who truly carries a handgun as a form of protection is well advised to be thoroughly trained in use of the firearm, be trained in medical aid, and also be insured. Training in use of the firearm should include marksmanship, presentation (drawing), basic tactics, and firearm manipulation. Medical training should include at the least, ability to stop bleeding through use of tourniquet, wound packing, direct pressure, chest seals, and the equipment must also carried. A person who carries should be properly insured with a carry insurance specialty company, such as the USCCA - no, your homeowner's insurance doesn't cover you.
A person who carries must devote study to de-escalation techniques, and must be willing to swallow his pride instead of letting ego take over. A person who carries must practice defensive driving, and must be willing to yield despite having the "right of way." A person who carries must realize that buying someone a cold beverage is far less expensive and time consuming than buying a criminal defense attorney retainer. A person who carries must avoid going to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things. A person who carries should invest time in learning the martial arts and/or carry of less-than-lethal weapons.
Just because one owns a hammer does not mean all of the world's problems are nails. Knowing how to pull a trigger does not mean you know how to shoot. Having served in the military, or having been a member of law enforcement does not mean your knowledge and/or skills are up to date. True experts rarely pass up an opportunity to learn more, and never think they already know all they need to know.
Self defense is a human right. It is my most sincere desire that you be able to protect yourself and your loved ones with the most effective tools available. Similarly, it is my most sincere desire that you be able to protect yourself and your loved ones with the most effective knowledge, skill, and tactics available. Select a good, quality firearm and ammunition, get some quality training, and keep your skills sharp.
Owner and Head Firearms Instructor - Patriot Training
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