My opponents like to talk the talk. But I'm going to tell you ladies and gentlemen I have walked the walk. In 1997, my first year in the Senate, I passed the bill that gives us handgun carry permits here in the state of Tennessee. When I passed that bill, you would have thought the world was coming to an end. The liberal press went berserk. I remember they kept saying, 'they call it the wild west bill.' ... Not that the press would be biased about stuff like this. I know it's going to shock you just a tad. They said we're going to have shootouts at stop signs. We're going to have people that fight over a loaf of bread in a grocery store and kill each other. We now have 270,000 people, including me, with a handgun carry permit here in the state of Tennessee. You know how much trouble we've had with them? None. None. ... I'm proud that I've helped sponsor this legislation.
Here are the facts: Tennessee newspapers have accounted for four killings by handgun carry permitees in the past year, beginning with the motorist outside Memphis who grabbed his pistol and blazed away at another man during an argument over how close their SUVs were parked.
Nationwide, concealed handgun permit holders killed at least seven police officers and 44 private citizens in 31 shootings over roughly the past two years, according to the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group.
And Ramsey knows all this, of course. Political reporters asked the Senate speaker about these killings last year. We also pointed out the last Safety Department report showing 624 permits were revoked or suspended in 2007 due to felony convictions, arrests and court orders of protection (usually sought by victims of domestic abuse). Ramsey replied then:
I would say it causes me concern, a lot of concern. But at the same time it is somewhat of a statistical anomaly. Obviously it causes you concern, but in this case you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. I don't want to belittle the fact that this happened. But at the same time that probably would have happened whether those people had a handgun carry permit or not.Update: The Violence Policy Center has updated its figures: More than 100 people have been killed by holders of handgun-carry permits since 2007, including nine law enforcement officers. "They shoot each other over parking spaces, at football games and at family events," says the center's Kristin Rand. "The idea that you're making any place safer by injecting more guns is just completely contradicted by the facts."