Tennessee Department of Safety “Misappropriating” handgun permit revenue?

The question that must be addressed is whether the State of Tennessee has been knowingly running a profit making enterprise when it comes to the Second Amendment protected rights of the citizens of Tennessee and if so, why?

Since 1996, the Tennessee Department of Safety has been responsible for issuing handgun carry permits.  In that time, it has charged $115 for the initial application on a 4 year permit and it has charged $50 for the renewal every 4 years.

Since it is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, any permitting system that does exist should be operated at cost – not at a profit and certainly not at a windfall to state.

A letter obtained by the Tennessee Firearms Association shows that Bill Haslam’s handpicked and appointed commissioner of the Department of Safety, Bill Gibbons, has responded to questions and concerns raised by Senator Mae Beavers.  In that letter, additional data has been provided on how the state has been running a racket and profiteering on the exploitation of charging fees to citizens who desire to exercise constitutionally protected rights.

This data was presented, however, in a different format than what was contained in the annual reports from the Department of Safety.  This letter shows that from Fiscal Year starting July 2009 through the period ending June 2015 that the state’s handgun permit program had

Year Revenue Expenses Overcharged % Overcharge
2009-10 $   6,476,887.00 $ 5,010,481.83 $   1,466,405.17 29%
2010-11 $   5,929,520.00 $ 4,639,243.22 $   1,290,276.78 28%
2011-12 $   6,303,076.00 $ 4,803,295.16 $   1,499,780.84 31%
2012-13 $ 12,009,137.00 $ 6,020,963.25 $   5,988,173.75 99%
2013-14 $   8,749,190.00 $ 5,532,208.90 $   3,216,981.10 58%
2014-15 $   8,527,286.00 $ 5,813,148.25 $   2,714,137.75 47%
Gross Gross
Revenue Expenses Excess
$47,995,096.00 $31,819,340.61 $16,175,755.39 51%


Using the State’s data going back only to July 1, 2009, and ending June 30, 2015, the state has intentionally gouged citizens seeking to exercise a right by charging almost $48 million and profiting over $16 million.

That same letter indicates that the State has intentionally transferred $18,276382.76 from the handgun permit account to the State’s “General Fund” and that there is a balance of $1.7 million still in the permit account.

Perhaps the citizens are entitled to know what the State has knowingly profited from this “2nd Amendment Tax” for two decades and why the administration – the Department of Safety – has failed in its public stewardship to come forward and say “we should reduce the fees by half” because we are profiting from this program in a huge and recurring windfall that is wrong.

If you have questions, perhaps they should be directed to Commission Bill Gibbons:

Bill Gibbons
Commissioner, Safety & Homeland Security
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: 615-251-5128
bills.gibbons@tn.gov (if his email follows state conventions)
or email.safety@tn.gov

Perhaps the answer lies with an examination of who is in charge of the administration and the Department of Safety.

Perhaps the answer lies with the question of who benefits if the cost is too much for the average person to raise and thus many may be priced out of the handgun permit.

Perhaps the solution is to adopt pure Constitutional Carry and take the state out of the business of profiting on the citizens’ ability to enjoy the free exercise of a constitutionally protected right.

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