MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner sat down with WREG and spoke about the potential unintended consequences of Tennessee’s new permitless carry law, which went in effect Thursday.
Bonner was one of several law enforcement leaders that spoke against Tennessee’s new law. The law allows someone at least 21 years old to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, without safety training or a permit.
“This new law is opening Pandora’s box,” Bonner said. “It is going to be more challenging.”
As a result, he says everyone in his department — from deputies, to recruits to dispatchers — is undergoing additional training.
“It’s a lot of areas that we are not only having to retrain our officers but dispatchers, because citizens would see a person walking down the street carrying a weapon would call and we would ordinarily answer,” Bonner said. “A person just walking down the street, that’s not a call we can answer, because we can’t even question that person about the weapon according to this new law. So we have to have reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”
That is why Bonner says it’s extremely important people educate themselves about the details in the new law, because there are places that still require a permit.
“In the parks you must have a permit to carry, and that’s the part of educating the public,” Bonner said.
Governor Bill Lee and other supporters of the law say it doesn’t apply to felons and the gun must be legally purchased.
But in a time in which Memphis is reporting record gun violence and the sheriff’s office is noticing a spike in car break-ins, with guns the intended target, Bonner hopes the new law doesn’t fuel the growing problem of crime.
“I hope it does not lead to more violence in our city, in our county, in our state,” Bonner said.
The sheriff’s office is also offering free gun safety training classes to help people understand the new law.