published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011, updated Oct. 22nd, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.

Group takes aim at new Tennessee gun laws

Should handgun permit owners be allowed to go armed in public?

NASHVILLE — Allowing the owners of handgun-carry permits in Tennessee to go armed in public boosts safety not only for permit holders but the public in general, some Second Amendment advocates say.

But a Washington-based group says permit holders have sometimes caused “mayhem” when dealing with their personal lives and in “road rage” encounters over parking or driving.

The Violence Policy Center cites 10 Tennessee cases since December 2008 in which 13 people have died when shot by handgun-permit holders. In five of the 10, the shooters were convicted of murder, and in a sixth the man killed his girlfriend then killed himself.

“The gun lobby’s worldview is the good guy is always stopping the bad guy,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center. “I think we’re just seeing the exact opposite.”

Rand, whose group culled much information from news accounts of shootings, arrests and court proceedings, called the Tennessee figures the “tip of the iceberg.”

Nationwide, the group estimates that, since May 2007, at least 381 people — including 11 law enforcement officers — have been killed by permit holders in incidents not considered as legitimate self-defense by police.

John Harris with the Tennessee Firearms Association, a gun-rights group, questioned basing the information on news accounts.

“First, by law, the Tennessee Department of Safety has to track data concerning handgun-permit holders who are charged with crimes and the disposition of those crimes,” said Harris, an attorney.

He said the Violence Policy Center’s “reliance on news reports, which seldom track dispositions, is suspect because they’re intentionally selecting less reliable data as to how many of these permit holders were wrongfully charged in shooting incidents as opposed to those [deemed] justifiable.”

He noted permit holders must pass criminal background checks and complete an approved handgun safety course.

Rand said the group relies on news accounts because many states either don’t collect the data or else don’t make it publicly available.

Tennessee cases

Violence Policy Center data, as well as additional reporting by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and other news organizations, show five permit holders in Tennessee have been convicted of first-degree murder or second-degree murder out of the total 10 cases the group found. Charges are pending in three other cases.

In a ninth case, a Memphis permit holder shot his girlfriend to death, then committed suicide as police prepared to arrest him on murder charges, according to news accounts.

In the 10th case, an apparent road rage incident in June, a Middle Tennessee permit holder shot another motorist in Ashland City. Despite being wounded in his chest and hip, the other man managed to wrestle the gun from the permit holder and shoot him dead, said Ashland Detective Jason Matlock. The wounded driver has been indicted for voluntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

Among permit holders found guilty in a shooting was Michael Joe Hood of Cheatham County. Hood pleaded to three first-degree murder charges related to the shooting deaths of his sister, Susan Hood Binkley, her ex-husband Dale Binkley and the couple’s 13-year-old son, Jackson, on March 27, 2010. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, according to news accounts.

Cheatham County Sheriff John Holder said possible motives included a dispute over recycling aluminum cans or a disagreement over a family dog. Family members told a Nashville television station that Hood was mentally ill and questioned how he was able to get a gun-carry permit in the first place.

Chattanooga Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Jerri Weary said city police “haven’t had any cases” involving shootings by permit holders.

Deterring, defending

Officials with the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Affairs did not respond to repeated quests for comment.

But one NRA-ILA official directed a reporter to the online version of the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine, which republishes news accounts of gun owners, including permit holders, who have defended themselves or stopped a crime using a handgun or rifle.

Many of the cases involved homeowners shooting or warning off would-be robbers or assailants. There were three incidents during roughly the same period covered by the Violence Policy Center in which Tennessee handgun-carry permit holders fended off would-be armed robberies.

In July 2009, as reported by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, a 62-year-old traveling jewelry salesman who had an Alabama carry permit was attacked by four men wanting to rob him. The salesman fired, wounding two of the men, the paper reported, and no charges appear to have been filed against the salesman.

New focus on Tennessee’s laws came about earlier this month with the arrest of state Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, a permit holder and champion of a 2010 law allowing permit holders to go armed in restaurants and bars, provided they don’t drink.

Todd, 63, was charged with DUI and possessing a handgun while intoxicated after being stopped in Nashville going 20 mph over the posted speed limit. A .38-caliber handgun was found stuffed between the driver’s seat and his vehicle’s center console, police say.

After coming under pressure, Todd, a former Memphis policeman, resigned his chairmanships of a House Republican firearms task force and the powerful State and Local Government Committee.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, a gun-rights proponent, has replaced Todd as chairman of the firearms task force.

“Any deaths are too many,” Matheny said. “We want to shoot for zero deaths, just like we want zero deaths on the highway.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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Justreading said...

Drunks in cars kill thousands each year, when are we going to ban cars?

October 22, 2011 at 12:20 a.m.
Echo said...

Between 1996 and 2006, the Violence Policy Center received U.S. $4,154,970 in funding from The Joyce Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in the Great Lakes region of the US that funds several gun control organizations.

Handgun Control Inc. AKA The Brady Campaign Against Handgun Violence is also funded almost exclusively by The Joyce Foundation, otherwise they have only 7500 small donors, and have recently tried to sell that donor list to raise money. They are the same group who appeared recently in Chattanooga with the Chattanooga Chief of Police Bobby Dodd.

Who is The Joyce Foundation? The Chicago based, Joyce Foundation is the money behind almost ALL of the anti-gun groups in the United States, including the Violence Policy Center and Handgun Control Inc. (the "Sarah Brady Bunch")and ove 20 groups in the upper Midwest.

The people who are behind the Joyce Foundation, The Violence Policy Project, and the Brady/Handgun Control Inc. live in the comfort of exclusive suburbs and gated communities, insulated from the violence directed at millions of middle and lower income people in America.

Felons from revolving door prisons in 1990's had the murder rate at more than double what it is today. The reduction is in large part due to carry permits issued since 1996 starting with Florida and now in 46 states.

Contrast a big grant giver like the Joyce Foundation controlling $1 billion in assets to the NRA with over 4 million small donors paying $25 a year and you can easily see how Kristen Rand of the VPC makes a lot of noise but has no populist support for her narrow, elitist, Northern, agenda.

Is it any wonder that Illinois is the last of 50 states to have carry permits? The City of Chicago violates U.S Supreme Court rulings such as McDonald vs. City of Chicago, because the money from Joyce Foundation makes it possible. Obama's political allies including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are directly dependent on these group for financial support.

These outsiders are greedy grant money addicts who are ignorant of America's past and have no regard for America's future beyond their personal financial enrichment. They have a bias against inanimate objects and law abiding citizens.

These ignorant people would sell us out to tyrants for a few piece or silver and for this they should be ignored.

October 22, 2011 at 4:42 a.m.
slr3 said...

Well stated, Echo. Facts , not opinions. Excellent observation.

October 22, 2011 at 6:56 a.m.
GreenKepi said... should be writing for 'this' paper...instead of Ol' Andy....

October 22, 2011 at 7:40 a.m.
headcoconut said...

He noted permit holders must pass criminal background checks and complete an approved handgun safety course.

The above statement serves no purpose when the individual, who was unstable all along, goes beserk after the fact and kills somone in murder-suicde, road rage etc. Then you have the criminals whose records have been expunged, and then there are the criminals who have lined the pockets of politicians and others who can become legal gun owners.

October 22, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.
GrouchyJohn said...

The state of Tennessee has 6.3 million people in it. According to the website, "Since October 1996, the Department of Safety has issued more than 339,000 handgun carry permits." That's not a high ratio of permits to people so maybe Tennessee isn't as full of gun nuts as the world thinks we are.

These Violence Policy Center twits found only 10 incidents ( within almost 3 years) of a permit carrier involved in a shooting??? Only 5 of them were convicted. I'm no math major, but I'd say that's a very very low percentage of people with permits that have been involved in an illegal handgun crime.

At the same time, there have been (per a TFP article dated Oct 10th), "As of Oct. 7, there have been 55 shooting incidents with injuries and 23 shooting deaths reported in Chattanooga this year." The vast majority of these shooting events were drive-by shootings in inner city areas. I'd bet the farm that there were exactly no permit carriers within the number of shooters involved in these events.

I have an excellent suggestion for The Violence Policy Center people.... I'd suggest they go stand on a few certain corners of Chattanooga's inner-city for a few nights with signs that say "I'm unarmed". No takers? Why am I not surprised? They aren't even good for "bait"...

October 22, 2011 at 8:52 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

I'm all for protecting the right to own a gun as it is protected by an amendment to the constitution unless, or until, the constitution is changed.

But, we all ought to look at the statistics and the cost of gun-related violence and ask how can we do something about a big problem that is a direct consequence of gun ownership?

The statistics show the negative cost to society is there, and you can't argue that biased statistics will change that fact. Who is going to write in to the NRA magazine and brag about "successfully defending their home?" besides a very narrow unrepresentative group of gun-nuts already biased towards their cause? (or legislators with a drinking problem who go out and get busted) The group in this article is also biased but at least they used readily available, non-biased data.

The problem is we let any crazy that wants to buy a gun do it. There ought to be very strict criteria to allow purchasing a gun, including age limits, paying for and taking a mandatory gun safety course, paying for and taking a mandatory psychological evaluation, buying and using a locked gun cabinet with a stiff fine for not using one, a background check, and severe fines for losing a registered weapon. The latter would be the best motivation to control guns from the illegal gun market. Gun ownership is primarily a recreational hobby, for example, hunting, target shooting, contests, etc, - nothing more. Like all legal hobbies, you need to have the money to play with it.

In Japan, the fine for riding in a car with a drunk driver is thousands of dollars and used to be, and probably still is, higher than drunk driving itself. They have very little problem with drunk driving. How can we apply this method to keeping guns in owners hands and inhibiting misuse? Try extremely severe fines for losing a registered weapon.

If you are clean you have nothing to fear.

(By the way, anyone who argues we need guns to go out and sit in trenches in our backyards in order to defend our country, or to protect ourselves against armed robbery is living in a different century and is fundamentally against our democratic system of government.)

October 22, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
RShultz210 said...

I am thankful for the efforts of people like Echo and GrouchyJohn who take the time to make logical statements after doing their research. They, along with the literally thousands of permit holders who are law abiding citizens excercising their right to self defense are the main bastion we have against attacks on our rights by hysterical, idiotic, collectivist, liberal communists who are afraid of any individual having the power to defend himself, and who think that a government made up of the same type of people they are can protect us and should be allowed absolute power over us from cradle to grave. No test for sanity or emtional stability is perfect, but this shoud not be allowed to be used as an excuse to deny the right of any individual to be armed to defend himself not only the attacks be dranged criminals but abuse of power by this government itself. And all this mindless horse hockey about "digging trenches in the backyard" is just libtard propoganda, that any intelligent person can see through in a heartbeat. And forcing people to keep their guns locked up renders them totally useless for self defense. But of that's what Socialist libtards want. To take away all the of individual's power to to defend himself against attack by criminals whether they are wearing bandanas or badges.

October 22, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
GrouchyJohn said...

inquiringmind, it is perhaps you that is living in different century if you think that "The problem is we let any crazy that wants to buy a gun do it.". Letting them is not the problem, keeping the crazys from getting one is much more difficult than you seem to to think.

Want a gun? There are many ways to get one, from stealing it to buying it off the street to actually (and legally) doing so at a licensed gun dealer. There are many more ways of getting one illegally than there are legally. Those of us that want to do it legally go to the licensed dealer, we are also the majority of people that get permits. At the same time I have inherited some 6-8 handguns from members of my family that have died. I usually trade these in to legal firearms dealers for newer firearms.

My point? There is no stopping the sale/transfer/acquisition of firearms, short of going Gestapo on US citizens. Are you willing to do that? Be aware that the 2nd amendment, IMHO, was written to stop the government from doing just that.

October 22, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Grouchy, If you face a mandatory $20,000 fine for losing your gun, you'll take a lot of care to keep it from getting stolen or losing it, and out of someone else's hands.

That is a pretty easy way to put a damper on stolen guns. Will it solve 100% of the problem? Of course not. The bottom line about your objection of how easy it is to steal doesn't hold up. There i no Gestapo involved here, I am not trying to keep guns out of your hands, you sound like a responsible gun owners. I just propose a simple economics problem to encourage responsible gun ownership. Rights carry responsibilities.

Trade or give away your guns all you want, just be sure they are registered by the person you trade/give them to, like transferring a car title. A dealer at a gun show will be pretty careful if he knows allowing one to get stolen may cost him a large chuck of change (profit). I've got a good enough collection of guns myself, some gained in the exact way you describe.

Any study of history shows by the way, the conditions at the time of the 2cd amendment are quite different than now and the logic for gun ownership then is not very compatible/similar with present circumstances, but that is a whole different discussion than arguing for responsible stewardship in gun ownership.

If someone is worried about guns and fighting a revolution go to Syria or the Gaza strip. It is not a reality in the USA.

October 22, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
RShultz210 said...

Anybody who thinks that a person should be fined $20,000 because someone BREAKS INTO HIS LOCKED UP HOUSE and steals his gun is absolutely out of his teeney little mind!!! And in case it has escaped your notice, the police already ACT like the Gestapo! And a locked up gun is about as useful as a condom with a hole in it. (inquiringmind to a gangbanger in his house at 3AM," All right you, freeze while I unlock my gun!!") Are you aware of how utterly insane you sound?

October 22, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

"He noted permit holders must pass criminal background checks and complete an approved handgun safety course."

The problem as I see it: The mostly calm, 99% law abiding citizens who seek and receive a permit are not angry or drunk when they go to pass the criminal background check or to attend an approved handgun safety course. Gun-carrying citizens are not a problem when they're rational and in a good mood. It's debatable whether their carrying guns deters any crimes; you sure wouldn't know it from the statistics, but theoretically it may be true.

The problem comes when a gun-carrying, law-abiding citizen feels threatened unjustifiably because of a misunderstanding or misperception; or when they're momentarily furious because of something trivial; or when they think they're Barney Fifes rushing to intervene in a "citizens' arrest"; or when they're drunk as a hootowl and they're not even aware who they're talking to, much less what they're doing with their gun.

There's also the problem of the gun-carrying citizen who thinks he's in control of any situation because he's got a "closer" to the argument, a fallback in any situation. This small minority can morph into the unofficial "deputy sheriff", with blue lights in the grill and occasionally pulling over a bad driver to give them a lecture. It's not the "inanimate objects" I'm worried about, it's the people carrying them around 24/7 with a chip on their shoulder or a minor god complex.

It's fallacious to think that a gun-owning citizen is any more self-regulated in his behavior in circumstances like these, than is any other person. Passing a criminal background check is a good first step, but the statistics cited in this article suggest there should be tighter screening of who can carry around a firearm 24 hours a day, always on the lookout for "trouble," as opposed to the looser standard of who can keep one in their home for genuine, reasonable self-defense.

(By the way, Echo and RSchultz, there are probably just as many NRA members who live in gated communities, insulated from the dirty, violent realities of urban America, as there are NPR liberals. There are lots of conservative millionaires and billionaires, and there are lots of liberals who live in poverty in trailer parks and shanties. Charlton Heston wasn't living in a cardboard shack in Hollywood. I don't think the ad hominem argument against the Joyce Foundation carries a lot of weight. Rich or not, their opinions may be just as rational and worthy of being heard as those on the other side; Americans should listen to each other and debate the issues, not dismiss the argument because of its source. Read these words again and ask yourself if they raise the level of discourse and understanding: "hysterical, idiotic, collectivist, liberal communists" and "libtard propaganda." Notice that I fixed your spelling. You're welcome. Have a nice day and please don't shoot me just because we don't agree and you're annoyed.)

October 22, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
Mojo57 said...

The 2nd Amendment is still law! Has been from the start. In recent years the higher courts have upheld its place in our constitution. End of story .

October 22, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
GrouchyJohn said...

inquiringmind, you are not entirely as "inquiring" as you think you may be.... the last time I checked, there is NO gun registration in the state of Tennessee. Shocked and horrified now, are you? The only people in Tennessee that keep records of gun ownership are those licensed dealers themselves and the companies that manufacture the weapons, and those companies (if and only if) you fill out the warranty paperwork (on-line or paper)and send it in.

My weapons (and that is exactly what they are) are mostly kept in my bolted down gun safe, but there is at least one with a round up the pipe, cocked and locked, where I can get to it quickly. A gun in a gun safe is not a gun, its a locked down piece of steel that is useless, not even a good club. At the same time, that gun safe can be ripped up, picked up and walked away with.... would you in your infinite wisdom consider that to be worth a $20,000 fine? If you do, I will be at the point of considering the old saying about not arguing with a fool because soon the people around you can't tell the difference to be in effect.

The debate re: the condition of the country now vs the latter half of the 1700's... the differences between now and then IMHO are disappearing. The modern stuff isn't disappearing, but the governmental attitude is getting more and more the same. The government will own you if it continues on this path.

hcirehttae, the next time you walk into a McDonalds, or a subway (train, not the eatery), or into (fill in the blank), please consider the REAL nutcases that are NOT permit holders that have walked in these same places and simply began blazing away. Whole rooms full of people shot dead because the so-called nutcases you think permit carriers are were not there and no one was armed to shoot back.

Go back and re-read the stats given you earlier in these comments, of 339,000 people given permits in Tennessee over the last 15 years, only 5 have been convicted of a gun crime within the last 3 years. Your wrong headedness and fear show you to be a flaming liberal IMHO. Hopefully it won't be your own home where you find one of these REAL nutcases waiting on you.

October 22, 2011 at 2 p.m.
rolando said...

So five Tennessee permit holders have been convicted of first or second degree murder during the last three years. That's less than two people a year. Get real, you incompetents.

Now exactly how many non-permit holders were convicted of murder in Tennessee during that same period?

Should be easy, TFP -- you print them everyday...and that's just in downtown Chattanooga. Put your BS in perspective.

Those incompetent anti-gunners in Washington would outlaw guns because TWO people a year shoot someone. What a bunch of control freekin' publicity seekers we are saddled with. Talk about trivialists worrying about a FIVE raindrops when a 200 ft tsunami is drowning their backsides...

October 22, 2011 at 5:33 p.m.
EaTn said...

Mojo57 said...

'The 2nd Amendment is still law! Has been from the start. In recent years the higher courts have upheld its place in our constitution. End of story ."

Not quite. Where does the constitution state that only certified citizens be allowed to carry guns? The good ole boy club of HCP's is similar to the laws passed to control the voting process. I dare anyone with a good conscience to use the constitution to justify control of either the right to carry guns or right to vote.

October 22, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.
rolando said...

Vermont has the "ideal concealed carry law"...see

October 22, 2011 at 6:57 p.m.
purplelaw said...

Most people with concealed carry permits are responsible citizens and would only use their weapon when absolutely necessary to protect themselves or others. Unless and until such person commits a crime then the right to carry ought to be upheld. Far more crimes are committed by persons without a concealed carry permit. The law presumes that a person is a law abiding citizen, this should remain and be protected. Obviously a person who seeks to get legal permission to carry a concealed handgun should be presumed to be a law abiding citizen.

October 22, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.

Since GrouchyJohn, Echo, and RShultz so thoroughly disabused inquiringmind of some rather silly notions (Well stated, folks!), I won't attempt those points again. But I did want to remind inquiringmind that we live in a "representative republic", not a democracy.

October 23, 2011 at 6:23 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The carry permit does not make the permit holder some kind of improvised police. Anyone who's been through the classes and gotten a permit knows that: it's a significant point made in the legal and safety classes.

One of the leading advantages of a carry permit is that it protects the permit holder from technical infringements on some weapons transportation laws; a permit holder is less likely to be charged with improperly transporting a weapon. That's pretty much the main function of the permit in the first place.

We can have anecdote after anecdote about who did what to someone else with a firearm. Any of those stories can be told ending in exoneration or tragedy.

Carry permits support safe and responsible weapons ownership. A lack of discipline or basic responsibility is a leading contributing cause to crime and accidents with weapons. Take going to the range, for instance. How many criminals do we see convicted each year who have spent time practicing on the firing range? I suspect very few.

These laws about carrying firearms into restaurants and bars exist because we have people in our community who are in constant threat of death who cannot participate in basic public activities because we've outlawed the presence of weapons in places where alcohol is sold.

It's about letting off duty police go to Chili's. It's about letting women who have been the victim of domestic violence who carry a pistol in their purse go to a gas station without committing a misdemeanor.

The carry permits are a license, the very word means "permission". That permission is granted in advance to vetted individuals when we believe they will be reasonable and responsible in their conduct when carrying weapons.

It takes about six months to get one of these permits. Most people who get a permit to arm themselves in public will never fire their weapon in self-defense, the only circumstance which allows weapons use under our state laws.

Permit holders are bound to the concepts of self-defense, not policing. Failure to understand the difference is a failure to understand what the law has to say about violence in our state.

We know that's what the law has to say about it because everyone who takes the class to get a permit has to sit through the same 30 minute legal advice video. I notice that political groups quoting incompletely declared "statistics" were quoted instead of the legal advice given to all citizens from the Department of Safety.

Please do some basic research. Watch the video. Take the safety class. It's ridiculously simple and easy.

The safety course required of permit holders was apparently not referenced or learned about by anyone who thinks permit holders are going to "be good" or "be bad" in their weapons use. The sole lawful condition which will support any weapons use in our state, on the part of the individual citizen in a fight against another, will be self defense.

October 23, 2011 at 7:39 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The comments from some political think tank won't matter in any instance of gun violence in our state. The law will. We have many detailed and specific laws about a wide variety of conditions related to weapons possession and use.

We see none of those laws discussed in the article above.

It's obvious: we often see little or no research into this topic whenever it comes up in public discussion. Everyone has an opinion, but no one bothered to gather the facts. That's why an aging video from the Department of Safety has been far more informative to me that the sad, unresearched story printed above.

Please try to imitate a professional journalist and do anything that looks like trying to gather information before parroting some group's press release in your stories.

Take a class on it. I dare your staff to take the carry permit safety class. We know you won't, but it's an entertaining thought anyway. If you do go, pay attention to the @#$%^ video. Thanks.

October 23, 2011 at 7:49 a.m.

When seconds count the cops are just minutes away.

November 5, 2011 at 8:20 a.m.
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