2017 is shaping up to be a long legislative session. A large number of gun bills have been filed this session, many seeking to expand our already lax gun laws. We will be busy tracking these bills, the good and the bad, and invite anyone with legal or legislative experience and in interest in firearm law policy to reach out and get involved.
As you read through all the bills, keep this in mind: Gun rights activists argue that more guns more places makes us safer, but Tennessee actually has a large percentage of gun owners. Estimates indicate that as many as 43% of Tennesseans are gun owners with as many as 250,000 registered as gun permit holders. By their logic, we should see less crime in our state. In fact, by their logic, Tennessee should be one of the safest states in the country.
Tennessee is 10th in the nation for death by firearm, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tennessee is the 3rd most dangerous state, according to violent crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report.
Tennessee is 9th in the nation for women murdered by men, most often with a gun, according to the Violence Policy Center.
According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, approximately 600 Tennesseans commit suicide with a gun each year – 50 per month. Firearms suicides are unique in their impulsivity and lethality.
According to a comprehensive report by the AP and USA Today, Tennessee is 4th in the nation for unintentional shootings of children. Of all cities in the country, Memphis is ranked #1 for kids unintentionally shot. Nashville is ranked 10th.
Using media reports, The Safe Tennessee Project tracks incidents of “gun carelessness” – incidents where an adult unintentionally shot themselves or another adult, incidents where an adult unintentionally shoots a child, or incidents where an adult’s choice to leave a loaded gun unsecured resulted in a child shooting themselves or someone else. In 2015, we tracked 51 such incidents. In 2016, we tracked 84.
In 2015, According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in 2015, over 2300 handgun carry permits were suspended or revoked. Over 3200 were denied – the highest number of both denials and suspensions on record.
In 2015, According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, over 19,000 firearm transactions were denied, the highest number in a decade. In 2015, 471 wanted persons were identified by the background check system when they attempted to purchase a firearm, the highest number in a decade.
BILLS WE SUPPORT
Seeks to impose tougher, mandatory sentences for anyone who commits a gun crime with a semi-automatic weapon.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, requires mandatory minimum sentences for certain criminal convictions involving semi-automatic firearms. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to require gun owners to report the loss of theft of a firearm. Currently, gun owners are not required to notify anyone if their gun is stolen.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, requires the owner or lawful possessor of a lost or stolen firearm to report the loss within 48 hours of knowing when it was missing or when the person should have known it was missing to the applicable law enforcement agency or be subject to a $250 civil penalty. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to provide law enforcement with a mechanism to intervene in cases where they feel a person may be an imminent danger to themselves, another person, or the public. Law enforcement officer would be able to petition a judge for a temporary order that would temporarily prohibit a person from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Referred to as the STOP (security order of protection) bill.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, authorizes the issuance of a security temporary order of protection that a law enforcement officer may seek to prevent a restrained person from being able to lawfully possess a firearm when the officer believes that the person is a danger to the person or another. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to allow individuals to temporarily place their name on a “do not sell” list if they are experiencing suicidal ideation or otherwise consider themselves a risk. Is designed as a firearm suicide prevention measure.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, creates within the TBI a voluntary “Do Not Sell” registry on which a person may place or remove their name; creates criminal offense of transferring a firearm to anyone on the registry; makes registry confidential and creates civil cause of action for inquiring or taking action against a person based on the registry. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to require background checks for all gun purchases, except those to family members. Family members would also be allowed to give or inherit firearms from family members without background checks.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, requires, subject to certain exemptions, a sale or transfer of a firearm to be done through a federally licensed gun dealer; creates a Class B misdemeanor offense for sales or transfers that are not conducted through a gun dealer. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to expand current reckless endangerment statute to include leaving loaded guns accessible to children. Does not impose any gun storage requirements, only penalties if a child under 13 gains access to a loaded gun, fires it, and injures or kills themselves or someone else. Also known as “MaKayla’s Law.”
Criminal Offenses – As introduced, expands the offense of reckless endangerment to include a person’s reckless failure to render inoperable or safely secure or lock a firearm, resulting in a child under 13 years of age gaining possession of the firearm and injuring or killing the child or another. – Amends TCA Section 39-13-103.
Seeks to require an annual report on firearm crimes be compiled and distributed to legislators each year.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, requires law enforcement agencies and departments to compile certain information on crimes involving firearms and submit the information annually to the Tennessee bureau of investigation, which then compiles a report of the information for distribution to the members of the general assembly. – Amends TCA Title 38 and Title 39.
BILLS WE OPPOSE
Expansive bill would greatly expand existing gun laws, including: making it no longer a crime to possess a firearm if convicted of ANY felony, except “dangerous” felonies; If rights have been restored those convicted of domestic violence offenses or violent felonies could possess guns; deletes entire statute prohibiting guns in public parks and playgrounds; increases burden on any government or political entity that wants to prevent guns on its premises. Must show by clear and convincing evidence (highest standard) that infringing the rights of citizens to defend themselves is necessary to prevent an existing problem with violent crime on the property at issue; Removes statute allow private universities to regulate guns on their campuses.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, amends various firearms provisions, including changes to firearms on school property, open or concealed carrying of a firearm, handgun carry permits, and posted firearms prohibitions. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13; Title 49 and Title 70.
Seeks to allow licensed firearms sellers to sell guns from their own personal collection without requiring background checks on the buyer.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, treats a licensed firearms dealer the same as a private citizen by allowing the dealer to occasionally sell, exchange, or transfer firearms from the dealer’s personal collection without conducting a background check on the buyer. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to forbid the state to use any state or local funds or employees to implement or enforce federal firearms laws, “regardless of whether the expenditure of funds or use of employees would violate a state law or the state constitution.” Such legislation is unconstitutional, and even it were to pass, would be challenged and overturned.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, prohibits the expenditure of state or local funds or employees to implement, regulate, or enforce any federal law or executive order regulating the ownership or possession of firearms or firearm ammunition regardless of whether the expenditure of funds or use of employees would violate a state law or the state constitution. – Amends TCA Title 38, Chapter 3, Part 1.
Seeks to allow anyone with a gun to carry it openly without a permit, meaning anyone with a gun can carry it openly without any training or proficiency requirement.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, enacts the “Open Carry Firearms Freedom Act.” Will allow anyone who openly carries a firearms to do so without a permit. – Amends TCA Title 10, Chapter 7; Title 33; Title 38; Title 39; Title 40 and Title 70.
Seeks to reduce the penalties for carrying a handgun without a permit and requires a citation in lieu of an arrest for anyone found to be carrying a handgun without a permit.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, reduces the penalty for the offense of carrying a handgun without a permit and with the intent to go armed to a Class C misdemeanor with a $25 fine for a first offense or $50 for a second or subsequent offense and requires a citation to be issued in lieu of arrest. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13 and Title 40.
Seeks to remove the ability of private businesses, included entertainment venues or sporting events, to prohibit firearms.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, prohibits denying a law enforcement officer entry to or removing a law enforcement officer from an event for which the officer holds a valid ticket or has paid an admission fee if denial or removal is based on the officer’s lawful carrying of a firearm; permits owner or operator of venue for an event to require law enforcement officer to inform the owner or operator that the officer will be present at the event and in possession of a firearm. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to make it easier for people convicted of violent felonies, including those involving deadly weapons, to have their right to own and possess a gun restored to them.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, permits the use of certain defenses to unlawful possession or carrying of a weapon by a person with a prior conviction for a felony involving the use of force, violence, deadly weapon, or drugs if the person’s rights of citizenship have been restored. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1308 and Title 40, Chapter 29, Part 1.
SB 0445 by Stevens
HB 0508 by Lamberth (co-sponsors Holt, Casada, Reedy, Williams, Eldridge, Rogers, Halford, Faison, Goins, Farmer, White D, Hawk, Butt, Littleton, Coley, Matheny, Pody, Rudd, Powers, VanHuss, Hill M, Hill T, Ragan, Sexton J, Terry, Gravitt, Byrd, Kumar, Sanderson
Seeks to make it easier to sue any private business or public entity for prohibiting or restricting guns on their property. Seeks to prohibit cities and even the state from enacting prohibitions and restrictions on carry of guns.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, creates a private cause of action for a party that is adversely affected by a local ordinance, resolution, policy, rule, or other enactment on firearms that is preempted by state law; prohibits local or state government entities from prohibiting or restricting firearms on state or local property unless certain conditions are met. – Amends TCA Title 29, Chapter 20 and Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to allow anyone with a handgun permit to carry a handgun into any government building posted as prohibiting firearms unless the building has metal detectors or armed security guards stationed at every public entrance to the building. Buildings affected would include all public schools, all public colleges and universities, government office building, city hall, courthouse, and libraries.
Handgun Permits – As introduced, authorizes handgun carry permit holders to carry a concealed handgun into a posted building or prohibited place operated by a state or local governmental entity unless there are metal detectors and armed security guards stationed at all public entrances. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to make it easier or individuals to purchase and possess silencers.
Weapons – As introduced, enacts the “Tennessee Hearing Protection Act,” which deletes the prohibition on possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of a firearm silencer. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1301 and Section 39-17-1302.
Seeks to allow any security guard with a permit to carry handguns on college and university campuses.
Education, Higher – As introduced, allows security guards who are employed on a part-time basis by a public institution of higher education and who are handgun carry permit holders to carry a handgun on campus in certain circumstances. – Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 49.
Seeks to allow a person who has been granted an order or protection to carry a handgun whether or not they have a permit, have undergone any training on how to use a gun, or have demonstrated any shooting proficiency or accuracy.
Orders of Protection – As introduced, permits a person who is granted an order of protection and who is not otherwise prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm to carry a handgun for 60 days after the initial order of protection is issued. – Amends TCA Title 36, Chapter 3, Part 6 and Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
Seeks to designate a weekend where guns and ammunition can be purchased without sales tax.
Taxes, Exemption and Credits – As introduced, creates a Second Amendment sales tax holiday for the first weekend of September of each year for firearms and ammunition. – Amends TCA Title 67, Chapter 6.
Seeks to further expand “stand your ground” law by making it easier to use self-defense as a defense for shooting someone, not just in cases when a life is in danger but also if the person is committing a criminal offense.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, confers criminal and civil immunity upon a person who uses or threatens force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense from a person committing criminal offense, unless the person is a law enforcement officer during discharge of the officer’s duties and the person knows the person against whom force is used is a law enforcement officer. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 11, Part 6 and Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
SB 1273 by Norris
No house sponsor
Seeks to include firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories in the annual “sales tax holiday.” Currently, the sales tax holiday applies to school supplies.
Taxes, Exemption and Credits – As introduced, creates a tax-free weekend for sales of firearms, firearms ammunition, and firearms accessories made during the same time as the annual sales tax holiday. – Amends TCA Title 67, Chapter 6.
Seeks to expand “guns in trunks” to RVs and boats.
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, expands the exception to unlawful carrying or possession of a firearm or firearm ammunition to include carrying or possession in a recreational vehicle or motorized boat; clarifies that the exception includes a loaded firearm, as well as a firearm or ammunition. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1307.
Seeks to allow anyone with a gun permit to carry their firearm anywhere they want. The only exceptions would be if the person has been drinking alcohol, is in court, or doesn’t alert the principal of a school.
Handgun Permits – As introduced, permits a valid handgun carry permit holder to carry a firearm at any time and in all places in Tennessee unless the permit holder has been drinking alcohol, is in a judicial proceeding, or is on school grounds and does not tell the principal. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1351(b).