KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A bill passed by lawmakers that is on Gov. Haslam’s desk right now would allow some Tennesseans to carry handguns instantly if they have an order of protection signed by a judge.
Hundreds of orders of protection are filed each month in Knox County. Last year 2,300 were filed.
If the governor signs this bill, those granted orders of protection, who can legally have a gun, will be able to immediately carry a gun for 21 days without going through a class or getting a permit.
Knoxville Family Justice Center Executive Director Amy Dilworth is an advocate for victims of abuse. She supports the bill.
“This bill is a wonderful step the legislature has taken to give another option,” said Dilworth.
Victims have 21 days to apply for a 60-day temporary carry permit. Steven Bowman, the owner of Cross Roads Firearms, says in that time people should attend classes for education and obtain a long-term handgun carry permit.
“It just goes over basic laws. You can’t shoot somebody in the back. You can’t shoot them when they are running away from you. You have to be in fear for your life or in fear of a loved one’s life before you can pull the trigger toward them,” said Bowman.
Dilworth agrees education is needed and says the protection would be best used by someone who is at a point where they are in control of their emotions and reactions and want to be safe.
“Some people that is exactly what they need for their protection,” said Dilworth.
She says it is not the answer for every victim though.
“Another issue is people who have been through domestic violence – have been traumatized – and that means they have a heightened fight, flight or freeze response. And if they are in that place where they are going to freeze, then that weapon can be taken and used on them,” said Dilworth.
The temporary 60-day carry permit still requires a background check and does not apply across state lines. A person is disqualified if they have a felony on their record. To obtain a long term carry permit a person still needs to take the training class and meet the other requirements of the existing law.
Dilworth emphasizes that victims need to talk to advocates to find out options available that way they can make an informed decision on how to stay safe. The governor’s office says he is currently reviewing the bill.