When “The Tennesseean” published an online database of Tennesseeans who have concealed carry weapons permits, the blogosphere erupted in protest. SayUncle was on top of the story from the moment it broke and had the best coverage. By the end of the day the newspaper, had
taken the database offline.
(Small note. The term “concealed carry weapons” permit, or CCW, is the most commonly used, so I’ll use it here. In Tennessee the official name is a handgun carry permit, and the gun can be carried concealed or not.)
Andrew Sullivan asks, “If gun rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?” To which Glenn Reynolds responds, in part, “But I’ll turn the question around: If abortion is a civil right, why would anyone object to having a newspaper publish a searchable database of people who’ve had one?” David Kopel notes that another newspaper, The (Fort Wayne, Indiana) News Sentinel,” decided not to publish a similar listing for fear that they would expose a woman who had obtained a gun and a CCW for protection from her violent ex-husband.
What “The Tennesseean” did was perfectly legal, but what exactly was their motivation to go to all that trouble? Publishing lists of CCW holders tends to suggest that they need to be tracked, like sex offenders. It implies that they’re nefarious characters who can’t be trusted.
Nothing could be further from the truth. One study found that in Florida CCW holders were 300 times less likely than the general population to commit a crime. A Texas study found that CCW holders in that state were “5.7 times less likely to commit a violent crime, and 14 times less likely to commit a non-violent offense.”
There’s a simple reason CCW holders as a group are so law-abiding — they have to be law-abiding citizens in order to qualify for a permit in the first place. This is what you automatically know about a person who has a CCW in Tennessee:
They’ve never been convicted of “any felony offense punishable for a term exceeding one (1) year”.
They’ve never been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
They’ve never been convicted of the offense of stalking.
They were not under indictment at the time they applied for a CCW.
They were not the subject of an order of protection at the time they applied for a CCW.
They haven’t had a DUI in the past five years or two or more DUIs in the past 10 years
They haven’t been under treatment for or hospitalized for addiction to drugs or alcohol in the past 10 years.
They’ve never been adjudicated as mentally defective.
They’ve never been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions (“dishonorable discharge, bad conduct discharge or other than honorable discharge Chapter 1340-2-5-.02 (5)”).
They’ve never renounced their U.S. citizenship.
They’ve never received social security disability benefits “by reason of alcohol dependence, drug dependence or mental disability.”
Any one of those things disqualify you from having a CCW in Tennessee. Part of your $115 application fee pays for a background check. Another part of the fee pays for you to be fingerprinted and your fingerprints filed with the state. Registering your fingerprints with the state is not exactly the sort of thing someone bent on a criminal life wants to happen.
Because of Tennessee’s requirements for CCW permits, it’s no wonder that CCW holders are less likely to commit crimes than the average person. “The Tennesseean” seems to think that CCW holders are less worthy of trust. I’m just the opposite. When I know that someone has a CCW I give that person more trust.
- Tennessee Handgun Carry Permits