Nearly 21-thousand people legally carry weapons in Shelby County

By Aaron Diamant

To hear local leaders tell it, the Mid-South is a safe place, and it's only getting safer. And they have statistics to back it up. Crime numbers are down this year. But those numbers are not the only thing some city and county leaders are touting. Nearly 21-thousand people legally carry weapons in Shelby County. A Target Five investigation found that number includes some very powerful people.

The population in the Memphis metro tops one million. Brent Taylor, Memphis City Councilman said, "Certainly there's going to be crime in anytime you've got a million people concentrated in a small area crime will be a problem." Statistics show crime hit more than 72-hundred people in Memphis since the start of the year. "You never know with the drive by shootings and with people out on the street carjacking vehicles. E.C. Jones, Memphis City Councilman said, "You know I could be a victim and certainly if they decide they want to take my vehicle we might have other ideas about that." Out of the 13 Memphis city council members, three are licensed to carry. "If anyone has a problem with that I guess it's their problem."

"I've never had my weapon at a city council meeting and I don't intend on doing that." Councilmen E-C Jones, Jack Salmons and Brent Taylor pack heat and carry gun permits. "I guess what would surprise me is the number of elected and the number of citizens who don't have conceal to carry permits." They say their public positions make them targets for constituents with a grudge, and other people in the same position agree. Myron Lowery, Memphis City Councilman said, "I dare say all public officials have been harassed by the public, have been threatened by individuals, so we all have to protect our own safety and be concerned about it." But Lowery chooses not to protect himself with a handgun. "I can understand why some elected officials might choose to carry a handgun. I choose not to do it." But Wyatt Bunker on the Shelby County School Board does. He says his gun does not send the wrong message to the students he represents. Bunker said, "I don't think it's a bad example having guns, guns don't kill people, people kill people." And Taylor says people who legally carry guns could make the difference. "I think the more people that are out that have concealed carry permits that are legally carrying weapons to protect themselves I think we'll have a much safer society."

Agree or disagree, the number of people in Shelby County packing heat is on the rise. Here are some of the other public figures with weapons permits. Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk, Steve Stamson, Millington Aldermen Dennis Wages, Terry Jones, and Jim Phillips, Alderman Rick Faith from Bartlett, Tennessee Representatives Larry Miller and Paul Stanley, both of Memphis, State Senator Mark Norris from Collierville, even Memphis Grizzlies center, Lorenzen Wright is packing.