Skip to main content

See also:

Tennessee revokes Gary Christian's handgun carry permit

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security seal.
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security seal.
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security revoked Gary Christian's handgun carry permit in December 2013, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported today.

According to the newspaper, the only explanation for the revocation is that Christian was convicted of felony theft in 2000. The crime was non-violent. Christian paid restitution and later had his rights restored. He filed a petition asking a Knox County judge to restore his permit. The judge granted his request, but the department appealed the decision.

Christian made national headlines after his daughter, Channon Christian, and her boyfriend, Chris Newsom, were kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed in 2007. Some of the convicted murderers received new trials and were re-convicted after it was learned that the original judge, Richard Baumgartner, was high on pills during those trials and several more.

Baumgartner received what amounted to a slap on the wrist from Special Judge John Kerry Blackwood. It included a two-year-suspended sentence and judicial diversion. However, after public outcry, he was later convicted in federal court and received six months in federal prison and lost his pension. He is appealing his conviction.

There is a file containing over 1,000 pages that explains Baumgartner's crimes, but the public will never see it. On March 9, 2012, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported:

Blackwood said the portions of the file not made public contain phone records and recorded conversations in which Baumgartner discusses sex with two women and makes "crude remarks" about people.

"What you're not going to find (in the TBI file) is a great big conspiracy among officials to protect Richard Baumgartner," he said.

The hearing was scheduled by Blackwood, although there were no legal matters set to be heard today in any of the cases for which Blackwood summoned the presence of lawyers and prosecutors.

He used the hearing to directly address the public, even instructing a lawyer for the TBI to "tell the public" why the agency's closed files are exempt from the Tennessee Open Records Act.

Because of the Christians and the Newsoms, the state passed two new laws, the Channon Christian Act and the Chris Newsom Act. They were signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam in April.

Examiner contacted the department for a copy of the letter explaining why Mr. Christian's permit was revoked and is waiting to hear back. Examiner has been waiting since January for the Knox County government to issue it a login for its Justice Information Management System. Until then, Examiner is unable to provide further details about Christian's history or anyone else's.

Disclosure: A family member of mine was raped and her rapist was granted a new trial because Baumgartner was the judge so if this article seems biased, it is. Our judicial system is broken.

Update: The state denied Examiner's request for the documents. It said since none of it has been used in a judicial proceeding that privacy laws prevent us from viewing it. It did give a copy of the document that shows that a Knox County judge reversed the Dept. of Safety's decision to revoke Mr. Christian's permit. It states that the reason is because Mr. Christian's rights were restored and therefore he has the right to a carry permit.

The state is appealing that judge's decision in circuit court, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The next hearing, according to the Clerk of the Circuit, Civil Sessions & Juvenile Courts, is August 8, 2014. Knox County gave Examiner access to JIMS. However, that system did not provide Examiner with any helpful information on this case.