New Concealed Carry Law Eases Access to Handguns
By: Elijah C. Lovingfoss, Esq.
As of January 1, 2020, Tennessee citizens will find it easier to obtain a concealed carry permit for a handgun. The new law, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1366, provides for a simpler training process for those who wish to obtain a handgun permit. This law differentiates between the current, older permit law, now known as the “enhanced handgun carry permit,” and the new, more limited permit, referred to as a “concealed handgun carry permit.” An enhanced handgun carry permit is required for those who wish to openly carry their handguns; whereas a concealed handgun carry permit will suffice for anyone who only wishes to carry a concealed weapon.
An applicant for a concealed handgun carry permit must meet many of the same requirements for the enhanced handgun carry permit with respect to their criminal, mental health, and substance abuse history. The biggest difference in the permit requirements is the amount of training required. In order to obtain an enhanced handgun carry permit, an applicant, with a few exceptions related to law enforcement and current or former military personnel, must show that they have completed a firearms safety course that includes time spent actually using the weapon on a firing range.
An applicant for the more limited concealed carry handgun permit is not required to show proof of hours spent on the firing range. Instead, a class satisfactory to meet the handgun training requirements is required to include information on “the basic knowledge and skills necessary for safe handling and storage of firearms and ammunition and includes firearm safety rules, handgun uses, features, basic skills and techniques, safe cleaning, transportation, and storage method.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1366(l)(1). The class must also be at least 90 minutes long, provides the current law related to carrying handguns, and include a test or quiz that demonstrates competence with the information in the course. The lack of a firing range component means this requirement may be completed through an online class.
Gun owners should be aware of this change in the law. Depending on how a gun owner wishes to carry, they may be able to avoid the cost and expense, in terms of time and money, associated with the enhanced handgun carry permit. Gun experts, however, still recommend that gun owners receive some type of hands on training with their firearms.