West Tenn. sheriffs back citizens with carry permits

McNAIRY COUNTY, Tenn. — Incidents such as the deadly shooting in California and another in Chattanooga months before are forcing politicians to pull the trigger on the topic of gun control. Those who have gone through the proper procedures to carry are being encouraged to do so by some law enforcement officials.

Two West Tennessee sheriffs recently signed a letter encouraging citizens in their counties who are authorized to carry a firearms to “consider doing so for your personal safety and the safety of those who are with you.”¬†It also encourages law enforcement officers, active and retired, to legally carry.

Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas and McNairy County Sheriff Guy Buck are the first two in the state who have signed the document.

“I’m not asking anybody to go out here and become a vigilante,”¬†Sheriff Buck said. “I’m not asking anyone to take the law into their own hands. I’m telling you, you’ve got the right to protect yourself.”

The Tennessee Firearms Association said people need to know where their officials stand on the issue.

“We think citizens living throughout the state of Tennessee need to know whether their sheriff, an elected official, supports them, if they’re handgun permit holders or not,” TFA Executive Director John Harris said.

With 20 deputies in McNairy County, Sheriff Buck said their protection can only cover so much of the area.

“The only time we can provide personal safety is if we’re on the scene at that time and we’re present,” Buck said. “At that time I can provide for your security and your safety. The minute I leave, you’re responsible for your own.”

Buck also said it is extremely important to be comfortable with your gun if you have a permit and that taking classes to enhance your knowledge and skills is important as well.

TFA hopes to get more reaction from sheriffs across the state in the coming weeks and months.

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