2011 was a year of record-breaking murder cases in Chattanooga, TN. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that last year (2011) there were twenty-five homicides in Chattanooga, a ten-year high in the city. With the increase in gang crime within the city, the problem has gotten worse and, as of January 31, 2012, the Chattanooga Police Department has already recorded thirteen shootings within the city. In the past several years Chattanooga neighborhoods have been ranked in the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods in America.
On my college campus alone, the serious felony crime rate is at 7.54% per one thousand students. Just to break that down, that means that for every thousand students on campus, seventy-six people are victimized.
Therefore, I decided to go through the process of obtaining a Handgun Carry Permit from scratch. I found out that although Tennessee is considered a “carry friendly” state, it is a costly and heavily bureaucratic process to own a gun.
First, I needed to find an instructor to teach me handgun safety; I paid $75 for the course. As part of the course you must qualify on the range, so I also spent $25 on ammunition.
After taking and passing the class, I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and stand in line. I filled out the background form and submitted it to the attendant at the DMV along with my birth certificate and driver license. I also had to pay a $115 “processing” fee. After the trip to the DMV, I had to drive across town to be finger printed. Then, the Tennessee Department of Safety would be running a local, state, and federal background check, and once I was cleared, I would receive my permit in the mail after no more than 90 days.
After the “registration” fees, add the price of the hand gun ($400.00), concealed carry holster ($15.00) and personal defense ammunition ($25.00), and the grand total equals $655, just to own a gun in Tennessee.
So is Tennessee the only state that makes it impossibly expensive and complicated for an American citizen to defend themselves? Journalist Emily Miller testified in front of the Washington, D.C. Judicial Committee about her difficulties trying to legally exercise her Second Amendment rights. She reported that the process involves 17 steps and costs $465 for the gun permit alone. On top of that, she added the price of the handgun and the $125 transfer fee for the weapon because of the lack of dealers in D.C.
Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, and Alaska uphold constitutional carry, which means no registration is required to own a gun in these states as long as you have never been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
Various state governments have realized that they can control how armed their citizenry can become. Right now the way most of the states are set up, the state can revoke anyone’s right to carry, at any time. These states have no business dictating who cannot exercise their Constitutional rights, excluding convicted felons.
Addressing the first session of Congress, George Washington said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people’s liberty teeth keystone … the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable … more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour.”
These words are no less important today then they were all those years ago. Until we ask, we will continue to be bullied by an oppressive government who gives itself powers that were never bestowed on them. Just remember, as the saying goes, “A right unexercised is a right lost.”