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New Poll Shows Tennesseans Strongly Support the Handgun Carry Permit System as Lawmakers Prepare to Hear Bill That Would Weaken it

71 Percent of Recent Voters Would be Less Likely to Vote For a Candidate Who Supported Weakening the Permitting System

Next Week, the Tennessee Legislature Will Again Hear Bill That Would Weaken the Training Requirement for a Handgun Carry Permit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today released polling conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of Everytown. The results indicate that a staggering majority of Tennesseans support the permitting system that governs who can carry a loaded handgun in public and its existing training requirements.

On Tuesday, April 23, the Tennessee Senate Finance Committee will hear HB 1264/SB 705, a bill that would weaken the permitting system and would allow people with no live-fire training to carry a handgun in public. The bill will be heard in the House Finance Committee on Thursday, April 25.

“The numbers here couldn’t be clearer: Tennesseans believe in the permitting system,” said Kat McRitchie, volunteer leader with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We can all agree that it’s just a bad idea to give handgun carry permits to people who might not have fired a gun before. Not only that, voters won’t support lawmakers who vote for legislation like this bill.”

The survey interviewed nearly 1,000 Tennessean voters and found, among other results:

93 percent of recent voters support requiring a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public — including 92 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of gun-owning households.

79 percent of recent voters oppose weakening the safety training currently required under Tennessee law, including 75 percent of Republicans.

71 percent of recent voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported weakening or eliminating the requirement to get a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public — including 65 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats.

65 percent of recent voters would be less likely to vote for Gov. Lee if he signed legislation that would weaken or eliminate the requirement to get a permit in order to carry a loaded handgun in public.

The current permitting system requires live-fire training, where an individual must practice firing a gun before being granted a permit to carry a handgun in public. HB 1264/SB 705 creates a new permit that strips that standard, replacing it with training requirements that could be satisfied with as little as a 90-minute online video course. This would allow a person to carry a handgun in public even if they have never fired a gun before.

Training requirements are an essential part of an effective permitting system. That is why law enforcement experts, firearms trainers and military personnel agree that citizens carrying guns in public should undertake firearm training including live fire. In fact, 26 states require live-fire training before obtaining a permit, including Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Tennesseans have been consistent in their support of the permitting system. A 2017 district survey conducted by House Speaker Rep. Glen Casada found that nearly 86 percent of his constituents supported Tennessee’s permitting process.