NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – July marks the first month permitless carry has been legal in Tennessee, allowing adults 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit or concealed carry license.
With the new law, there are restrictions on where someone can carry. The law does not allow a person who has been drinking to carry and some believe restaurants and bars play a key role in making sure that’s enforced.
“I live in New York,” said James Digiuseppi who was visiting downtown Nashville. “In New York, people get searched when they go into a club.”
Some visiting downtown Saturday said they were glad to see permitless carry become law in Tennessee.
“I’ll be honest with you, I feel safer when I go into a restaurant or public place and I see open handguns and I know that people in there are carrying,” Springfield resident JK Graves said. “It’s how we grew up and that’s what makes Tennessee so great.”
But security consultants like JC Shegog say the new law comes with added responsibility for businesses, especially ones with alcohol.
“They’re going to believe that it’s their right to have it wherever they go and they’re going to try to enter into these facilities,” Shegog said. “Some of these facilities have security and it just depends on the level of security that they have that will make the patrons safe or not.”
Although you may be able to enter a business that serves alcohol, the law says you can’t drink while carrying, something Shegog says bars need to keep a close eye on.
“Observation skills, being able to look at a person from various angles to see bulges, to see a firearm,” Shegog said.
He believes security checks at the door will become more crucial and people need to report any suspicious activity they might see. It’s also up to the business whether they allow guns and they can ask a patron to leave at any time.
“If the owner asks you to leave, if he recognizes the bulge and says ‘do you have a firearm? Yes I do, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, then you have to leave,’” Shegog said.
Although some believe training should be required to carry a gun, others say the law makes them feel safer.
“With Tennessee being open, I think that’s awesome. Guns save good people’s lives,” said Coli Kibler who was visiting Nashville from Ohio.
Others believe in the right to carry wherever you go, including downtown. Graves says he strongly encourages people to educate themselves on what they carry. However, he still supports the new law.
“I have a license to be educated about what you are carrying,” Graves said. “But I do respect and defend our second amendment, so it is your American right to be able to have a handgun.”
Law enforcement agencies, including the TBI and Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, have spoken out against the legislation.
The new law also increased the penalties for an array of gun crimes.