Thomas W. Thomson III
17 October 2009
Memphis Panhandling Permit Law
The citizens of America have a right to use sarcasm in noticing government laws. Tennessee has plenty of weird laws. In Dyersburg, it is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date! One in specific, which stands out is the Tennessee law saying, “Panhandlers must first obtain a $10 permit before begging on the streets of Downtown Memphis. It must be issued by the city treasurer, or his designee, in his/her possession at all times.” In my opinion, this is a dumb law. The reason why this law should be abolished is because in 1996, Memphis City Council past an ordinance on panhandling, and now, the permit is free. Most panhandlers do not obtain a permit; most panhandlers are not homeless; cash given to them supports them in buying drugs and alcohol; and when the law restricts certain areas more than others, the question is obvious. Why is this law so dumb?
First, the ten dollar panhandling permit has now become free to obtain, and most do not apply for the permit. The permit which can be granted through the city treasurer's permit-license manager can be issued for many different lengths of time and takes very little time to process. Still, most do not apply for the permit due to the fact that some panhandlers are just passing through Memphis, not all city cops enforce the permit law, and panhandlers can only be fined fifty dollars for violating a city ordinance. A combination of all these factors is the reason panhandlers overlook the requirements set fourth by the City Council to panhandle in Memphis, TN.
Secondly, most panhandlers are not homeless and the vast majority of homeless do not panhandle. Generally speaking, panhandlers are strangers that approach you on the street to hustle you for money, which will most likely be used to buy drugs or alcohol. A former panhandler and addict stated, "Giving money to a panhandler is like giving a gun...