KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County is leading the state in the number of handgun permit holders.
In Knox County, there are 37,128 valid permit holders, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The only county that has more handgun carry permit holders is Shelby County, which has 65,747 permit holders.
Knox County has also seen a rise in permit holders over the last five years. There was a 47 percent increase in Knox County permit holders from 2012 to 2017.
Brian Davis, an instructor at SIA Firearms in West Knoxville, says he isn’t surprised by the increase. He said he’s seen a gradual uptick in the number of students in his handgun carry permit classes since the state dropped the price of getting a carry permit.
On January 1, the cost of a lifetime carry permit in Tennessee dropped from $500 to $300. The amount of time a permit is valid was also increased from four years to eight years.
“It’s just an adding factor and it tips the balance over for people that were on the fence to go ahead and do it,” said Davis.
Davis said more women are also coming in to take the class. He said about half of his students are women.
David Tutko, one of Davis’ students said he felt like he needed to get a handgun carry permit because of the way the world is moving.
“If there’s a shift in political nature in four to eight years from now, I’d rather do it when it is a little bit cheaper,” said David Tutko, a student who recently took Davis’ class. “I felt it a necessity to pursue this for the safety of myself and the people I love.”
Tutko said his mother and girlfriend took the class earlier this year.
“They were very pleased with the fact that for $100, they’ve got eight years to basically make up their mind whether or not they are comfortable carrying,” Tutko said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, since January, there are 591 new handgun carry permit holders in Knox County. Applicants must be 21-years-old. However, if a person is at least 18 years of age and is honorably discharged or retired veteran of the United States, they can also apply for a handgun carry permit.
Top 10 counties with the most handgun carry permits
- Shelby County – 65,747
- Knox County – 37,128
- Davidson County – 33,439
- Hamilton County – 28,148
- Rutherford County – 25,078
- Williamson County – 18,904
- Sumner County – 17,751
- Sullivan County – 17,289
- Wilson County – 15,913