MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There should be no question that the job of a police officer in Memphis has gotten a lot tougher. And you can thank 64 member of the Tennessee House, 23 members of the state Senate, and one follow the leader governor. As of last week, anyone in Tennessee who is 21 and over without a criminal record or other restrictions – are allowed to openly carry a handgun in public without a permit.
The new law is the first major league headache for new Memphis police chief Cerelyn C.J. Davis. As she told the city council Tuesday, the department is having to retrain its officers in how to respond to citizens they encounter carrying a weapon. All the old rules about checking for permits are out the window. Plus, officers must be careful not to profile some people – particularly people of color – who may be armed – while letting others go about their business no questions asked.
In Memphis, where shootings occur on a regular basis, the new open carry law is a disaster ready to happen. The fact that most Shelby County lawmakers voted against the legislation is of little consolidation. So I suggest that two of them who voted yes -- Republican House members Tom Leatherwood and Kevin Vaughan – schedule a meeting soon with Chief Davis and explain to her why they voted to make her new job more difficult. And that’s my point of view.