The Federal Government’s Partial Shutdown and its Impact on Tennessee Handgun Permits
The federal government is now under a partial and likely temporary shutdown of “non-essential” services. Governor Haslam’s administration is reportedly stating that “the issuance of handgun permits . . . would be affected due to required background checks, according to the administration.”
TFA’s review of the handgun permit statute suggests that as a matter of state law there can and should be no delays whatsoever to that process unless its an intentional decision by state government to delay on the excuse of the partial federal shutdown.
It is important for those concerned about this issue to pay attention to the language of the statute which establishes the procedure for issuing (and renewing) handgun permits and not necessarily to rely on statements from Governor Haslam.
The statute in question is Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351. Although the statutory language is set forth below, it is important to note that the state of Tennessee is required to issue the permit within 90 days of the date of application even if the FBI never responds (subsection (i)). Actually, there is not a single provision in the Tennessee statute which even requires the state to delay the issuance of the permit while waiting on any federal agency to respond. Any representation by the administration that the issuance or renewals of permits might be delayed by the federal partial government shutdown is not supported – even remotely – by state law.
What Governor Haslam’s statement does evidence is an unacceptable belief that Tennessee government and other state governments are somehow subordinate to the federal government and totally reliant on its existence not just for funds but apparently for matters such as the issuance of handgun permits to citizens. It is this type of philosophy and perception of the proper role between and among the citizens, the states and the federal government that is a cancer to our Republic, to state sovereignty and to the rights of citizens. It is critical that citizens understand this and that they be ever watchful for this diseased mental process to surface so that it can be corrected by citizen pressure and if not corrected swiftly that those so infected can be removed from the stewardship of government service as swiftly as possible.
(g) (1) Upon receipt of a permit application, the department shall: (A) Forward two (2) full sets of fingerprints of the applicant to the Tennessee bureau of investigation; and (B) Send a copy of the application to the sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides.
(2) Within thirty (30) days of receiving an application, the sheriff shall provide the department with any information concerning the truthfulness of the applicant’s answers to the eligibility requirements of subsection (c) that is within the knowledge of the sheriff.
(h) Upon receipt of the fingerprints from the department, the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall:
(1) Within thirty (30) days from receipt of the fingerprints, conduct computer searches to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a permit under subsection (c) as are available to the bureau based solely upon the applicant’s name, date of birth and social security number and send the results of the searches to the department;
(2) Conduct a criminal history record check based upon one (1) set of the fingerprints received and send the results to the department; and
(3) Send one (1) set of the fingerprints received from the department to the federal bureau of investigation, request a federal criminal history record check based upon the fingerprints, as long as the service is available, and send the results of the check to the department.
(i) The department shall deny a permit application if it determines from information contained in the criminal history record checks conducted by the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation pursuant to subsection (h), from information received from the clerks of court regarding individuals adjudicated as a mental defective or judicially committed to a mental institution pursuant to title 33, or from other information that comes to the attention of the department, that the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of this section. The department shall not be required to confirm the applicant’s eligibility for a permit beyond the information received from the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation, the clerks of court and the sheriffs, if any.
(j) The department shall not deny a permit application if: (1) The existence of any arrest or other records concerning the applicant for any indictment, charge or warrant have been judicially or administratively expunged; or (2) An applicant’s conviction has been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction; or (3) The applicant, who was rendered infamous or deprived of the rights of citizenship by judgment of any state or federal court, has had the applicant’s full rights of citizenship duly restored pursuant to procedures set forth within title 40, chapter 29, or other federal or state law; provided, however, that this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply to any person who has been convicted of burglary, any felony offense involving violence or use of a firearm or any felony drug offense involving a Schedule I, II, III, IV or V controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue. If the applicant has been convicted of a felony drug offense involving a Schedule VI controlled substance, this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply if the offense occurred within ten (10) years of the date of application or renewal.
(k) If the department denies an application, the department shall notify the applicant in writing within ten (10) days of the denial. The written notice shall state the specific factual basis for the denial. It shall include a copy of any reports, records or inquiries reviewed or relied upon by the department.
(l) The department shall issue a permit to an applicant not prohibited from obtaining a permit under this section no later than ninety (90) days after the date the department receives the application. A permit issued prior to the department’s receipt of the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation’s criminal history record checks based upon the applicant’s fingerprints shall be subject to immediate revocation if either record check reveals that the applicant is not eligible for a permit pursuant to the provisions of this section.