On March 21st, 25 gun bills are scheduled to be heard and voted on in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While some of the bills are good bills, the majority are bad.  They are quite concerning and several of them, if passed, could be very expensive for the state, not to mention dangerous.

What can you do?  You can attend our “Wear Black for Gun Day in the Senate Judiciary” event and attend the hearing (3:30pm in room 12) dressed in black as acknowledgement of the number of gun deaths every year in our state.  And, you can contact the committee members by making phone calls or sending emails.

Here are the gun bills on the 3/21 calendar.  Those in red are the ones we deem high priority, those in orange are ones we deem medium priority, while those in green are bills we support.

SB 0670 *Harris (HB 0961 by *Turner)
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.
* Also known as an extreme risk protection order.  Would allow law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is believed to be an imminent risk to themselves, someone else, or the public. States with similar laws have seen reductions in firearm suicides.  In Tennessee, an average of 600 people EACH YEAR use a gun to take their own life.

SB 0671 *Harris (HB 0962 by *Love)
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.
* Would allow a person who was experiencing suicidal thoughts to place themselves on a voluntary “Do Not Sell” list.  Could save the life of a suicidal person, including vets suffering from PTSD.  

SB 0308 *Kyle (HB 0048 by *Clemmons)
Handgun Permits – As introduced, requires one-half of every handgun carry permit fee to be annually donated to one or more nonprofit organizations established for the purpose of providing financial assistance to families of police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical staff who lost lives or are victims of serious and disabling injury in the line of duty. – Amends TCA Title 39.
* This bill would create a way for gun permit fees to benefit first responders shot in the line of duty.

SB 0309 *Kyle (HB 0047 by *Clemmons)
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.
* This bill would serve as a deterrent to gun crime by establishing stronger sentencing for gun crimes.

SB 1186 *Kyle (HB 1395 by *Towns)
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.
* State law does not currently require gun owners to report stolen firearms.

SB 1097 *Kyle (HB 1319 by *Stewart)
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.
* This bill would expand background checks to include private sales.  Vanderbilt and MTSU polls show that 83-84% of Tennesseans favor expanding background checks.  According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, over the last year, an estimated 54,000 gun sales were denied because the purchaser failed a background check.  Additionally, during that same period, over 2300 wanted felons were identified as a result of background checks.

SB 1139 *Kyle (HB 0876 by *Akbari, Miller)
Domestic Violence – As introduced, increases penalty from Class A misdemeanor to Class E felony for violation of an order of protection, possession of a firearm while subject to an order of protection, and conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 13 and Title 39, Chapter 17.
* Anyone with an order of protection filed against them or who has been convicted of domestic abuse is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.  Considering the number of women murdered by men in Tennessee (we are 9th in the nation), the penalty for breaking this law should be a felony, not a misdemeanor.

SB 1117 *Kyle (HB 0829 by *Jones)
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.
* This is the 2017 version of “MaKayla’s Law.  Tennessee continues to have an above average number of children injured and killed as a result of access to loaded, unsecured firearms.  This bill would expand the existing reckless endangerment statute to include failure to safely and responsibly store loaded guns.

SB0229 *Massey, Bowling, Harris, Lundberg (HB 1112 by *Farmer, Casada, Jernigan) Domestic Violence – As introduced, requires the court to give a defendant intending to plead guilty to a domestic violence offense notice of the firearm dispossession consequences of a domestic violence conviction and sets out a procedure for a person convicted of domestic violence to terminate possession of all firearms. – Amends TCA Section 39-13-111 and Section 40-14-109.
* This bill would require a court to inform anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense that they are legally required to dispossess, or give up, their firearm.

SB0983 *Gresham (HB 0752 by *Goins, Moody, White D, Littleton, Weaver, Rogers, Hazlewood, Butt, Harwell, Lynn, Hardaway, Terry)
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.
* Often in a dispute, both parties will seek an order of protection and it essentially becomes a “race to the courthouse” as to whom it will be granted.  This bill fails to acknowledge this possibility.  In fact, this bill could make it easier for the person who is actually the abuser to carry a gun without a permit.  Additionally, this bill assumes that person who filed the order of protection has experience with firearms, which may not be the case.  Allowing someone who has had no training whatsoever to carry a gun in public places is dangerous.  If the goal is to allow someone being threatened to protect themselves with a gun, an alternative might be to allow them attend a permit class for free.

SB0921 *Southerland (HB 0011 by *Goins, Sexton J)
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.
* This bill would legalize silencers.  For hunters, the report – or sound of the gun firing – is vital to alert other hunters of your location.  Hearing protection is already offered at firing ranges and can be purchased for far less than a silencer.

SB0339 *Niceley (HB 1176 by *Faison)
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.
* Carrying a gun in public without a gun permit is against the law.  This bill seeks to lessen the penalty for people who are knowingly breaking the law.

SB 0145 *Beavers (HB 0061 by *Rogers)
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.
* Licensed firearms dealers already conduct background checks for gun sales.  There is no reason that they should not conduct them for all gun sales.  

SB 1341 *Bailey (HB 0884 by *Matheny)
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).
* This bill would allow guns anywhere and everywhere, including public and private schools, sporting events, hospitals, college campuses, and more.  In addition to being bad policy, this bill carries an extraordinarily high fiscal note.  Passage of this bill could put the Departments of Education and Children’s Services out of compliance with federal regulations and could lead to a potential loss of as much as $436,179,800 of federal funding.

SB 0131 *Green, Hensley (HB 0493 by *Holt, Eldridge, Byrd, Hill T)
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.
* This is a massive and sweeping bill that seeks to undo and rewrite numerous statutes related to firearms, including guns in schools, playgrounds, college campuses and the permitting process.

SB 0386 *Green (HB 0367 by *Reedy)
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.
* This bill seeks to make it easier for a person who has been convicted of a violent felony to have their gun rights restored after serving their sentence.

SB 0445 *Stevens (HB 0508 by *Lamberth, 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)
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.
* The controversial guns in parks bill passed in 2015 was poorly written and ambiguous and has led to lawsuits.  In 2015, the city of Knoxville was sued by the National Rifle Association and Tennessee Firearms Association when they prohibited firearms during their state fair.  This bill is directly related to that and seeks to send a message to any business or property that seeks to prohibit firearms on their premises.

SB 0356 *Tracy (HB 0455 by *Littleton, Pody)
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.
* Takes away a property owner’s right to decide whether or not they want anyone carrying guns on their premises.

SB0531 *Southerland (HB 0506 by *Hawk)
Handgun Permits – As introduced, makes a person relocating to Tennessee eligible to be issued a handgun carry permit without completing the classroom and firing range requirements if, within 5 years from the application, the person had a valid handgun carry permit in another state with substantially similar classroom and firing range requirements. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1351.
* It is unclear how this would work or how “substantially similar” would be defined.


SB0269 *Beavers (HB 0894 by *Pody)
Handgun Permits – As introduced, requires the department of safety to promulgate rules regarding requirements for handgun safety course instruction, including qualifications of handgun safety schools and instructors, required for handgun carry permits; authorizes a permit holder to convert an eight-year permit into a lifetime permit at any time. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.
* Current law requires that permits be renewed.  Each year, a number of permits are suspended or revoked.  In 2015, 291 permits were revoked and 2076 were suspended, a record for both. The renewal process allows authorities to insure these people are not allowed to carry guns in public.

SB 0146 *Beavers (HB 1407 by *Weaver)
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.
* This is unconstitutional as it seeks to pre-empt federal laws.

SB 1340 *Bailey (HB 1221 by *Hicks)
Firearms and Ammunition – As introduced, authorizes district attorneys general and similar persons to carry firearms subject to training and certification requirements. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1350.
* This bill is a further expansion of who and where guns can be carried without any demonstrated need.

SB 1339 *Bailey (HB 0688 by *VanHuss, Eldridge)
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.
* Gun owners are already allowed to carry or possess a gun in a recreational vehicle.  No demonstrated need to expand carry to boats.