NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Memphis state senator wants to roll back the permitless carry bill signed into law in Tennessee last year in the two major urban cores of the state.
Sen. London Lamar (D—Memphis) has introduced SB0010, which would reinstate the handgun permitting requirement for Shelby and Davidson counties, the two “urban cores” of the state.
According to Lamar, the bill is necessary because the permitless carry bill signed into law which took effect last year has made both counties more dangerous.
“I presented this bill because I felt like our counties have demonstrated that they are not ready to handle the wide free range of guns, with so many of the crime challenges and the violent crime we have had in our cities,” she told News 2.
Since the permitless carry bill went into effect last July, Lamar said, there has been an uptick of guns stolen out of cars and an increase in violent crime in both Memphis and Nashville, making the policy not one that was “beneficial to our cities.”
“I think that we need to make sure we’re dealing with certain issues first in our urban cores of Nashville and Memphis before we can let permitless carry continue to roam throughout our cities,” she said.
Lamar said when the General Assembly first introduced the permitless carry bill, which was touted and publicly supported by Gov. Bill Lee, numerous law enforcement agencies across the state, including her city and the TBI, came out against the bill, uniting individuals and organizations on both sides of the aisle.
“My city is on the same accord, no matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican,” she said. “This bill was never good for the city of Memphis, and that is why we want to take it out. We were very open about how this could be dangerous for our city from the beginning. They did not listen to us, and what has happened is…it’s contributing to the violent crime in our city.”
The bill as it is written would apply only to Shelby and Davidson counties, Lamar said, acknowledging that the more rural areas of the state may not have the same violent crime issues as the two urban counties.
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“I understand there are people in our more rural areas who are more used to hunting and having a lot more space in their backyards to use guns,” she said. “They use guns a little bit earlier; I get it. They want to be able to continue to do those things on their land easier.”
While the bill is narrowly catered, Lamar said she’s bracing for an “uphill battle” on the bill with likely only one party’s support.
“I think it will be easier for Democrats to get behind this [bill] because most of the Democrats are from these two major cities, so we are feeling the impact of this law,” she said.
She added that if the “hearts and minds” of her colleagues across the aisle have not changed since they approved the permitless carry bill in 2021, she was ready for that challenge.
“Just like when they voted for this bill in the first place, I don’t think anyone cared enough to not vote for it in order to save the citizens of our counties,” she said. “If I look at how they voted last time, and those hearts and their minds haven’t changed, then we are looking at an uphill battle. Our police chief and our mayor and other local elected officials and leaders all came out against this bill the first time, and [the General Assembly] neglected what they asked for. If anything hasn’t changed, it’ll be an uphill battle.”
SB0010 does not currently have a House companion bill.