Local firearm instructors concerned about new concealed carry permit law

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Firearms instructors are concerned about a concealed carry permit bill passed by Tennessee lawmakers.

Under the new bill, permits would not require training that involves actually firing a gun.

Senators voted 18-11 for the bill that would allow online training of at least 90 minutes, which would include a test for a new, less expensive permit.

The bill was sponsored by a state senator from West Tennessee who called the current training requirement time-consuming and burdensome.

“I don’t think 90 minutes is good enough,” said Russell Davis, range safety officer and N.R.A. certified instructor at Barnett’s Guns in Hampton, Tennessee.

Davis admits it’s an issue he and his staff are torn about.

“But how do we regulate that without stepping on the 2nd ammendment?” he said.

Barnett’s offers state-certified training lessons for those interested in acquiring an open or concealed carry permit. 

Davis thinks it should be more difficult to obtain a concealed carry permit than what the new law would require.

“The average person walking on the street is not trained and prepared to carry a firearm,” he said.

Those two views are shared by instructors at the Unaka Rod & Gun Club in Washington County, who also offer state-certified training courses.

“The idea of going out with a 90 minute training course online,” said Bob Hopping, treasurer and N.R.A. state-certified instructor with the Unaka Rod & Gun Club, “it’s just not going to cover it.”

Another issue Hopping sees is how other states would receive Tennessee concealed carry permits now that the required training has been lessened.

“If you drop that down to a 90 minute online course and not handling any guns,” he said, “it is my guess a lot of those states are going to say no you can’t carry here anymore.”

Hopping thinks fewer people will want to take the state-certified class, now that there is a cheaper and faster option available. 

“I think it’s good the way it is right now,” said Davis.

Davis said people of all experience levels have benefitted from taking training courses at Barnett’s.

“Everyone of them has said they’ve learned something,” he said.

Currently, state-certified classes are around 8 hours long, divided into a classroom and range portion.

During the classroom period, those looking to get their hand-gun permit will learn topics like state and federal laws and how to handle and clean a firearm, as well as discuss self-defense situations, just to name a few.

They will then take a 50 question test before firing around 50 rounds on the range.

Permit training lessons can cost around $50-60.

Currently, it’s about $100 for an eight year permit and $300 for a lifetime permit. 

There are special rates for veterans and retired law enforcement officers.

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