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Tennessee's gun laws are changing in 2020. Here's what you need to know

For years, the state has only had one type of handgun permit. Starting Jan. 1, it's adding a second.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Beginning Jan. 1, Tennessee gun owners will have a second option when applying for handgun permits. 

The state currently has one type of handgun permit that allows users to carry a firearm open and concealed on their person. It requires a $100 fee and an 8-hour hands-on class, among other background check requirements. 

That permit doesn't change under the new law, however, it will be renamed an "enhanced handgun permit." 

But starting in 2020, a new, second option will be available. 

It's called a "concealed only handgun permit" and as the name implies, it only allows permit holders to carry a weapon if it is concealed. 

The requirements for the new permit are different too. Most notably, it costs $35 less and only requires a 90-minute training course with no hands-on component. 

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Some gun store owners said the change might confuse customers. 

"In the past, we would say, 'Tennessee does not have a concealed carry permit. It’s a handgun permit permitting you to carry open or concealed--your choice.' Now we’re going to have to say, 'OK, are you really wanting the concealed carry permit or the enhanced handgun carry permit? And we’re going to have to explain the differences between the two," said Steve Smith, the manager of S.E.T Guns and Range in Oak Ridge. 

At his store, instructors have decided not to offer the abbreviated concealed-only permit course, in part because it does not contain a practical training portion. 

"We feel training and practice is the best thing you can do if you’re going to go armed in public," Smith said. 

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But the biggest factor in the decision, Smith said, was his anticipation that few are going to pursue the new permit type. 

"We feel that most people once they are explained the differences and differences in cost. Once they are explained the benefit of the current enhanced handgun permit, I think that’s the way they’re going to go," Smith.  

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