Memphis leaders fear city will suffer as Tennessee’s permitless carry law goes in effect

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Starting Thursday, Tennessee residents aged 21 and up will be able to carry a handgun, concealed or openly, without any kind of training or permit.

Mid-South leaders and elected officials have spoken against the new law, and worry about what consequences it could have, specifically in Memphis.

“Our young black community is going to suffer from it. And we’re going to suffer in a bad way,” said Stevie Moore, the founder of the Memphis-based anti-violence group Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives.

Moore is well aware of the dangers of gun violence. He lost his own son to a shooting nearly 20 years ago.

Gov. Bill Lee and other proponents of the law say felons are exempt from the privileges of permitless carry, and say it will also enforce stiffer penalties on firearm theft. But Memphis leaders are skeptical about the impact that will have, and how those who are exempt will be identified.

“I don’t know too many people walking around the streets that have ‘felon’ written across their head,” Moore said.

New Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis has not spoken publicly about the new law, but elected officials and law enforcement in Memphis have been almost unanimous in their concerns.

“Our governor is waving around like there’s a victory lap to be had, and I think it’s actually catastrophic,” said former Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.

The city’s homicide rates are already on a record-setting pace in 2021. Now, some community leaders are bracing for even more tragedy.

“I’m most afraid of innocent lives, and they’re gonna be young people, getting caught in the crossfire,” Moore said.

Gun safety and training courses are still encouraged for anyone acquiring a firearm.

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