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Monday, June 25, 2012

Gun permits and the AG.

Here are a few questions I have sent to the AGs office on the gun permit fees.

Dear General Cooper:

I am writing to request an opinion from your office.

Recently the eastern section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals released an opinion that struck down as unconstitutional a Maryville ordinance that made it "unlawful for any club, organization or similar group to hold any meeting, parade, demonstration or exhibition on public streets without some responsible representative first securing a permit".

They also struck down a minimal fine for not having a permit for this constitutional right.

More info may be found here


In examining the First Amendment, the Court held "There is no economic sliding scale for the right to engage in constitutionally protected activities."

 Unless this decision is overturned and since the Second Amendment (The right to bear arms) is widely recognized in the same regard as the first, can the State of Tennessee impose similar economic restrictions on such right as the ones that were struck down?  Could the state requirement that a person purchase a gun carry permit, regardless of their income, be a similar impermissible burden on the Second Amendment? Can the State impose a fee for exercising one's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms? Can they impose a fine for those failing to obtain a permit for that constitutional freedom?

Restrictions on constitutional rights should be viewed with a keen eye. Indigent persons may be prohibited from exercising their constitutional rights due to such financial requirements. Are financial restrictions in current law constitutionally suspect?


Sen. Stacey Campfield


  1. Tennessee's gun permit fees are the equivalent of Jim Crow laws. The costs are so high compared to other states ($27 from my original home state of PA, with no class requirement for a CC) that it almost appears the $130 was instituted simply to keep the permits out of the hands of the poor. If it takes $30 to process a fishing license or drivers license, how can the state actually justify an additional $100 fee, considering all of the infrastructure is in place at the DMV's and at the state?

    1. Because it is a great money maker and there is a bite in it if your caught carrying without one again money. they know that in this state we all will carry it is a hunting and shooting culture. NO BRAINIER..follow the money

    2. Stacey, why not get a budget estimate for reducing the fee to $30, or even free. Just to see what the state estimates it to be.

  2. Good luck Stacey on getting a constitutionally sound response to that one....

  3. A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal constitution... The power to impose a license tax on the exercise of these freedoms is indeed as potent as the power of censorship which this Court has repeatedly struck down... a person cannot be compelled 'to purchase, through a license fee or a license tax, the privilege freely granted by the constitution.' —MURDOCK V. PENNSYLVANIA 319 US 105 (1942)

  4. I carried a .38 snubby in my vehicle for many years without a permit; simply because I couldn't afford it. In so doing, I risked fines and jail time; a no-brainer considering the risk of life and limb inherent with going unarmed.

    Thanks for exposing this hypocrisy in our state government.

    Scott B.

  5. But then again, we (TN) do not have a state income tax (yet). That makes us more of a “fees” state. I require several professional licenses and own a business in TN. Although there are many fees associated with that, I prefer that over an income tax any day. I CC everyday as well.

  6. Anonymous @11:10 AM - As I have typed innumerable times before: the constitution grants NO rights! All of our rights existed prior to the constitution being written. The constitution constrains the government from violating these rights. It is up to the people to force the government to abide by these constraints.

  7. Your questions were good until you got to the part about, "exercising one's Second Amendment right". There's no such thing as a Second Amendment right. Our rights come from our creator God, not from government or the Constitution.

    JD points out the flaw in the court case. It would read better if it said freely protected, not freely granted. Even that isn't accurate, because nothing associated with government is free.

  8. "There is no economic sliding scale for the right to engage in constitutionally protected activities."

    That has not stopped the GOP from implementing voter suppression that targets the elderly and poor to spend money to obtain IDs they don't have to vote.

  9. 11:10 Anon,

    Good point. I was able to catch my AA as they were about to take it over. I brought it back and added that to my final draft.

  10. 10:39 Anon,

    There is no right guaranteed by the constitution to vote. Only one of equal access. There is free access as there is no set cost to vote. You could argue gas costs but everyone has the same cost and you could theoretically walk there for free or vote absentee if you qualify.

  11. I appreciate the effort here, but what if Bob responds with "if you really think this is unconstitutional, why does every gun bill the Republicans have introduced lately also REQUIRE the same unconstitutional permit?"

    I expect to get something back about the constitution allowing "regulating the wearing" so the fee is allowed, but it will not address how our regulation of wearing is actually prohibiting the bearing - an unconstitutional infringement.


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