By Jeff Nichols, as published in Western Shooting Journal May 2013 issue.
WITH THE RECENT TRAGEDIES IN NEWTOWN AND AURORA, and the political fight for the Second Amendment waging in Washington, DC, millions of Americans are heading out to get their concealed weapons permit (CWP). According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in Tennessee (the Volunteer State) as of March 2013, there were a total of 398,194 valid Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Holders. This is an icrease of 13.6 percent since March 2012, when there were 350,327.
In Tipton County, Tenn. the sheriff’s department provides classes on the last Saturday of the month. When asked why the sheriff conducts this course, Deputy Sheriff Bob Beanblossom, the Rangemaster, responded, “The Sheriff thinks this is a good public service. We can provide a public service to the people, first to help them learn a little more about guns and the laws that affect them when they are a handgun permit carrier, and it also helps us to give them a little shooting time on our range, and get a better opinion of us.”
Why do residents of Tennessee want obtain their CWP? I recently attended the CWP class at the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office to talk to applicants as well as to take the class myself. For me, getting my CWP was for several reasons. One reason was to protect myself and those around me. It is not because anyone wants to be a hero, or wants anything to happen. The fact is, having a weapon in case you need it is similar to having a fire extinguisher in case of a fire. It may never happen, but if it does, you will be prepared and may be able to stop another tragedy from occurring.
“I think it is due to the political climate, and people are afraid that they will have their rights taken away from them. One, they are getting their handgun for personal protection,” Beanblossom said. “But it also will let the lawmakers know that there are a lot of people out there who care about exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
No one ever wants to be in a place where a criminal or a person who is mentally ill decides to kill or maim other people, but the odds of a person being able to commit mass murder when there are honest armed citizens around drops tremendously.
Kriston Arnold, a Tipton County resident who shot a handgun for the first time a week prior to the training, said that her husband convinced her to get her carry permit for her own safety. She brought a 9mm for the class, “I tried several different calibers and felt most comfortable with this one,” she said. “I might do a little more target shooting because I now realize that I enjoy it and have a little fun doing it now that I am not scared to do it.”
MOST POLITICIANS AND CELEBRITIES WOULD LIKE YOU TO BELIEVE that only bad things will happen if citizens are allowed to own guns, while reporting only the stories that represent a person intent on killing as many people as they can. Those same politicians and celebrities would like people to believe that if you restrict or take away certain guns (or all guns), that the criminals will magically begin to follow the law.
Tracy Green, a United States Marine Corps veteran who did three tours to Iraq, also took the class. “I came to get my carry permit today because of personal protection and also economic situations today, people would rather steal what you have, instead of going out and working for their own stuff,” he told me. “It was very informative, and helps you know gun safety and the laws about gun safety; how to protect yourself and when to protect yourself.”
Beanblossom said, “This is the first class we had a pre-registration. We had been increasing in size from three attending, to five, to 15. Now, last month (Feb.) we had 39.” He continued, “We try to give a complete class that encompasses just the law, or just the parts of a gun. We try to incorporate the laws in such a way that people understand them in practical terms. And then we try to bring the shooting down to not just a skill, but an activity that has consequences.”
** Update: At this time the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office is not conducting handgun permit classes. You can go to http://www.concealedcarryservices.org/tennessee/index.php for information on obtaining your first permit or renewing an existing permit.
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*Update: After 109 days, I finally received my CWP.