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Fears grow in Memphis as permitless carry law nears

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Community members will come together Saturday morning for the fourth Unity Walk against gun violence at Hamilton High School.

It comes just three weeks before a new law takes effect in Tennessee, that police say could lead to more guns on the streets of Memphis.

Permitless carry, or what some call constitutional carry, allows anyone 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit and without training.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he signed the bill into law because it protects the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans.

There’s a debate brewing about whether permitless carry will lead to more crime.

Many states have just started passing permitless carry in the last few years, so it’s unclear of its impact on crime.

Gun rights groups say permitless carry could prevent violence by keeping more people from becoming victims.

But a 2017 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found states that loosened their gun laws tend to see a 13 to 15 percent increase in violent crime ten years after adoption.

With the law set to take effect July 1, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich is urging people to continue getting training, even if it’s not required.

“If you are going to take advantage of this new legislation, if you are going to arm yourself with a deadly weapon, please for the safety of yourself, for the safety of your family, for those around you, learn how to use it,” said Weirich. “Learn how to store it, learn how to hold it properly, and learn when it is that you are legally allowed to use.”

Memphis Interim Police Director James Ryall says in light of this new law MPD is “re-educating” officers on how to deal with someone who they come across who might be carrying a gun.

He says they worry they will see an increase in guns on the streets of Memphis.

“Will it affect our community? It will. We’re already affected by an overload of firearms and we anticipate seeing more,” said Ryall. “What we’re having to do right now is re-educate our officers on how to deal with that new law, how to approach subjects that are armed.”

As of July 1, Tennessee will join about 20 other states with some form of permitless carry on the books.

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