Licenses to Carry on the Rise

(WVLT) - The shooting at Virginia Tech and other violent crimes closer to home have many East Tennesseans worried about their safety, and some are taking matters into their own hands.

The Coble family's taking protection into their own hands.

"This school and any school gives you the ability that if something else happened in your life, you'd be able to defend yourself," Russ Coble says.

Russ, his wife, and two children are all enrolled in classes at Wheeler's Karate.

Each punch, kick, and bow...a lesson in discipline, courage, and integrity.

"It's a cruel world, I mean it's so cruel. It gets crueler everyday," Chuck Reynolds says.

In January...a brutal double murder in Knoxville...and only months later, the worst shooting in U-S history at Virginia Tech make that clear.

"But people are looking for something, they're looking for something to help them just fight against that," Reynolds continues.

And that's lead many families like the Coble's to study self-defense.

But for some, bare fists just aren't enough.

Since the two violent crimes, firearms instructors say more everyday people want to load up.

"Following any sort of tragedy that causes people to be concerned for their own safety, we'll see an increase in people to make sure that they are safe," Trevor Putnam says.

More than 170,000 Tennesseans already hold hand-gun permits.

At Coal Creek Armory, the Hand Gun Safety Course required to pack heat has been booked solid.

"Previously we'd fill up about a week a head of time, and it went up to a month and a half," Putnam continues.

That's 20 gun-seekers a week at this store alone.

But the Cobles don't need a trigger...

"I feel a lot safer when I go into Walmart or Target or somewhere like in public, and I know I can defend myself," Alea Coble says.

A family ready for whatever comes their way.

Interests in gun permits and other forms of self-defense comes as a bill in the Tennessee Legislature could change where you can carry a gun.

If passed, the bill would let you take a gun into a state park. The bill's also been amended to let you pack heat at any public park, playground, or civic center.

A committee's scheduled to vote on that bill next Wednesday.

To learn more about applying for a Tennessee handgun carry permit, click here.

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