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'You can't assume they're committing the crime because they're carrying the handgun,' | MPD breaks down your rights under permitless carry law

The MPD wants to stress police officers are not allowed to question you for permitless carrying if you have not done anything wrong.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — July 1, 2021 marks the day Tennessee becomes the 19th state to allow people to carry a gun without a permit or training. Memphis police said they are cautiously optimistic about Tennessee's permitless carry law going into effect today. MPD's Assistant Chief Don Crowe breaks down your rights under this law. 

If you live in Tennessee and want to own a gun, you do not have to worry about applying for a carry permit to concealed carry or an enhanced carry permit to open carry. 

"We are worried that some of the people that don't follow obey the law may also try and take advantage and carry with permitless carry," Crowe said.

The permitless carry statute, signed by Governor Bill Lee last month is also known as constitutional carry. It allows non-felons who are at least 21 years old to open or concealed carry a gun without a permit. But Crowe said there are still rules in place. 

"Certainly there's a federal law that prohibits people from carrying handguns and that law is still the law. And if you violate the federal law, you're also violating the state law,“ he said.

According to the new statute, people can be arrested if they are permitless carrying and are: 

  1. a fugitive 
  2. have been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor of domestic violence
  3. under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance

Crowe said MPD said officers are being trained properly so people are can safely exercise their rights. He said police officers are not allowed to investigate you for permitless carrying if you have not done anything wrong. 

"We must have a reason to believe that they're committing a crime. under permitless carry, you can't assume they're committing the crime because they're carrying the handgun," Crowe said. "So I know that gets complicated, and that's the message we want to get to our officers. But just carrying the handgun alone, is not enough for the officer to conduct an investigation."

You can read the full statute here