More Tennesseans are getting licensed to carry a handgun. The number of applications to the state has more than doubled since last year, according to the Department of Safety. The spike comes as the identities of permit holders are no longer public record.
There are now more than 430,000 permitted handgun carriers in the state – up 80,000 from the start of last year.
Since that time, the General Assembly passed a law keeping private the names, birthdays and addresses of licensed gun owners. Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons says he wouldn’t necessarily make a correlation.
“I can’t really explain the reason, but it is a phenomenal increase,” Gibbons says. “I think everybody has the right to seek a handgun carry permit, and I understand why a lot of people do.”
The Department of Safety has been so overwhelmed by permit requests that processing time for a driver’s license has slowed. Gibbons says 10 percent of everyone who shows up at a DMV is now waiting on a handgun permit.
Since last year, Knox County surpassed Davidson in total number of handgun permits with 27,742. The Department of Safety publishes annual reports (2011, 2012) showing a breakdown by county and zip code.
Shelby County has nearly twice as many permit holders as anywhere else in the state. But the concentration isn’t in the city of Memphis. The leading zip codes for permits issued last year are in the suburbs of Arlington and Collierville.
However, more permits were issued in Hendersonville (37075) than anywhere else in the state in 2012. Parts of Mt. Juliet and Clarksville are regularly close behind.