Join Faith Leaders Calling on Governor Lee to Reject Permitless Carry and Protect Lives
Dear Gov. Lee and Members of the Tennessee General Assembly,
In the past year, Tennesseans have shown their resilience and strength while enduring devastating tornadoes, a deadly global pandemic, a Christmas Day bombing, and extreme winter weather. Yet, instead of trying to address these issues, our state leaders are trying to pass a law that would allow anyone to be able to get a firearm without needing to get a permit first. So, less than one year after writing and delivering a nearly identical letter, as faith leaders across the state of Tennessee, we once again are calling on our elected officials to protect the people of the state over dangerous permitless carry legislation.
As people of faith, we take seriously our commitment to love God and to love our neighbors not just with our words, but with our actions. We are called to seek justice, lead with compassion, and serve with humility. As faith leaders, we have a moral obligation not just to preach and teach within our own congregations, but also to seek the welfare of the city where we serve. While our shared strength has been tested by the natural disasters of viruses and storms, our state is now facing a test of our willingness to prevent disasters of our own making.
Governor Lee, you have advocated for a bill that would allow for permitless carry of a firearm in our state. Our current permitting system ensures that proper background checks and safety training are done before an individual can carry a concealed weapon. It is imperative that we maintain the existing permitting system to prevent further tragedy in our state. Studies have shown that states that have weakened their firearm permitting system have experienced an 11 percent increase in handgun homicide rates (1) and a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime rates2. And a majority of non-gun owners and gun owners across the political spectrum agree that high safety standards are an essential part of the concealed carry permitting system (3).
Any legislation seeking to undercut the current permitting system is dangerous and demonstrates a moral failing to keep our communities safe.
Mr. Governor, you have spoken publicly about your own personal family tragedies. You clearly understand loss. It is our hope and prayer that you will do whatever you can as our state’s leader to help reduce the number of lives lost. We urge you to withdraw your support for permitless carry and maintain the public safety standards our current permitting system affords.
Your name with clergy and people of faith across Tennessee
1 Michael Siegel et al., “Easiness of Legal Access to Concealed Firearm Permits and Homicide Rates in the United States,” American Journal of Public Health 107, no. 12 (December 1, 2017): 1923–29,
2 John J. Donohue, Abhay Aneja, and Kyle D. Weber, “Right-To-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A
Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Control Analysis,” NBER Working Papers (National Bureau of Economic Research, November 2018),
3 Daniel W. Webster et al., “Concealed Carry of Firearms: Fact vs. Fiction” (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Gun Policy and Research, November 16, 2017), https://bit.ly/2QJr2Mi.