Join Faith Leaders Calling on Governor Lee to Reject Permitless Carry and Protect Lives

Dear Gov. Lee and Representatives:

As our nation struggles with the public health emergency and economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, our state has also suffered extraordinary tragedies in the form of violent storms and tornadoes. Through it all, Tennesseeans have demonstrated their resilience and commitment to the common good. Know that you have been in our prayers as you have sought to lead our state through these unprecedented times.

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 rates (2). 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.

Sincerely,

Join the Open Letter