Tennessee Special Legislative Session Targets Gun Owners

posted on August 26, 2023
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Gary Todd courtesy Flickr

Several anti-gun measures that were rejected by the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year are back in play in a special session that convened on Aug. 21. Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) special session, ostensibly to address “public safety,” has quickly turned into an anti-gun barrage with proposals under consideration that cover everything from “red-flag” laws to “safe-storage” provisions.

“Tennessee will be a safer state as a result of the efforts of the legislation and the legislators who are engaged in the process of this special session on public safety,” said Gov. Lee when announcing the session earlier this summer.

One of the proposals would institute a so-called “red-flag” law. While proponents of the measures say such a law would save lives, these measures’ lack of protection for the due process rights of lawful gun owners is very problematic.

Fortunately, Senate Republicans managed to kill this measure in committee—at least for now–on Aug. 22. The legislation would have allowed confiscation of an accused person’s firearms—basically rescinding the person’s Second Amendment-protected rights—without ever being found guilty of committing a crime or even being accused of a crime. Then, once the protective order has run its course, a gun owner would be subjected to a background check before having his or her firearms—which he or she still legally owns—returned by law enforcement.

Another scheme creates a Class E felony of threatened mass violence for reckless handling, displaying or discharging of a firearm while operating or as a passenger in a motor vehicle. As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) reported, “This legislation could seemingly sweep in conduct, such as a person or passenger moving guns around in their car in a completely non-threatening manner. Under current Tennessee law, threatening someone with a firearm from a motor vehicle is already aggravated assault and is a Class C felony.”

Equally concerning, another bill would provide for different treatment under the law for owners of common semi-automatic firearms used legally and safely by millions of Americans for a number of lawful purposes.

Another troublesome measure dictates that classes that qualify as training for issuance of an enhanced-handgun-carry permit or concealed-handgun-carry permit must include training on the use of gun locks. The problem with such language is if a time-tested teaching curriculum doesn’t happen to include training on the use of gun locks, it would no longer meet the training qualification.

Still other proposed legislation would require a federally licensed firearms dealer to install a firearm-safety device on a firearm before delivering the firearm to a purchaser if the person is not a federally licensed firearm dealer and implement several “safe storage” provisions that control how individual Tennesseans keep their firearms.

NRA-ILA has created a “Take Action” page to help Tennessee gun owners make their opinions on the anti-gun bills known to their legislators. If you’re from Tennessee, Click here to make sure your lawmakers know where you stand.


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