Business Owners for Common Sense Gun Policy
Join the Business Owner Open-Letter to Governor Lee who recognize good business starts with protecting safety of their customers and employees.
Governor Lee and Honorable Members of the Tennessee Legislature:
As leaders with business interests in Tennessee, we write in opposition to HB 2817/SB 2671 that would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a permit, background check, or safety training.
We fully support Second Amendment rights and have not opposed legislation to responsibly expand rights of Tennessee gun owners until now. However, we believe permitless carry weakens the ability of law enforcement officials to protect the public’s safety and therefore threatens the vibrancy of our economy.
As you know, currently, to legally carry a loaded handgun in public in Tennessee, a person must get a permit – which requires a background check and completion of firearm safety training. Permitless carry would mark a major policy shift in Tennessee by eliminating the requirement that someone obtain a permit before carrying a loaded handgun in public. We oppose this change for the following reasons:
1) Costs too much. The Fiscal Review Committee estimates the cost burden to the taxpayer at $18.5 million every year. The majority of the money will go to incarcerate more people for longer sentences for certain gun crimes. We already have too many citizens incarcerated. The Governor’s own Criminal Justice Investment Task Force has said, “Over the past 10 years, Tennessee’s incarceration rate has risen to 10 percent above the national average, and its communities are no safer for it.” Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this money could be used to provide economic relief to our communities and businesses, support rural hospitals, or expand broadband in rural areas so new business will go there, etc.
2) Too risky. Individuals carrying without a permit will be less likely to follow Tennessee law because they will no longer be trained on where they are allowed to carry firearms. The absence of this training will increase the burden on business owners who will have to address issues like unintentional discharges, increased police interactions, or confronting armed individuals who fail to obey signage etc.
3) Law enforcement opposes. Law enforcement officials from all corners of our state havepublicly opposed this legislation. We cannot support legislation when the people charged with public safety are against it. Law enforcement will be stripped of a vital tool they need to tell the difference between law abiding gun carriers and prohibited people. Business depends on law enforcement and we should listen to them. We are also having difficulty recruiting police officers in parts of our state and permitless carry will make that more difficult.
4) Tennessee as an outlier. Permitless would make Tennessee one of only 16 states where it is legal to carry concealed handguns in public without a permit. In the majority of states, including in the Southeast, a person must acquire a permit in order to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. It’s important that we not put ourselves at a disadvantage with states and metro areas where safety is a priority.
5) Solution in search of a problem. In business, we resolve problems with practical, sensible solutions. What problem does this bill solve? Polling shows that large majorities of Tennesseeans, including gun owners, support permits and over 650,000 Tennesseans have carry permits. Most people agree that those carrying concealed handguns in public should have a permit — that’s how they show that they know how to use a gun and are responsible. Simply put, a strong permitting system is an essential part of responsible gun ownership.
Tennessee has a devastating gun problem right now: The FBI rated Tennessee the 3rd most dangerous state in the nation. We are 8th in firearm homicide and 4th for firearm mortality for young people 19 and younger. If we want to keep our communities safe and economy vibrant, we must strengthen our gun laws, not make it easier for persons with no safety training or background check to carry in public.
As citizens, parents, and business leaders, we encourage our lawmakers to oppose HB2817/SB 2671.