The Safe Tennessee Project is a grassroots organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of gun related injuries and gun violence in Tennessee. We see it as a public health concern, not a political issue. We are non-partisan and welcome members from all backgrounds.
We are a gun violence prevention organization. Far too many Tennesseans, especially women and children, are injured or killed with a gun each year.
We respect the second amendment.
We do not advocate confiscating guns.
We do not believe that exaggeration, hyperbole, or political rhetoric are useful and, in fact, stand in the way of meaningful and effective action needed to reduce Tennessee lives lost to bullets.
We seek common ground and support evidenced-based policies that can reduce the number of families torn apart by gun violence.
TENNESSEE HAS A GUN VIOLENCE PROBLEM
- Tennessee is 11th in the nation for death by firearm for all intents and 7th for homicide only, according to 2017 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 5th 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, 600+ Tennesseans commit suicide with a gun each year – 50 per month. In 2015, the number was 638. In 2016, the number was 675. Youth (ages 10-24) firearm suicides have increased significantly over the last five years.
- In 2017, Tennessee led the entire nation in shootings involving children with access to unsecured, negligently stored firearms.
- Memphis led the nation in 2017 for shootings involving children with access to unsecured, negligently stored firearms . Nashville tied for 6th.
- Between January 2015 and December 2018, at least 32 Tennessee children have been fatally shot when they or another child gained access to an unsecured, loaded gun and pulled the trigger.
- In 2015, there were at least 51 unintentional shooting in Tennessee resulting in 13 deaths. In 2016, there were at least 81 unintentional shootings in Tennessee resulting in 15 deaths. In 2017, there were at least 80 unintentional shootings resulting in 26 deaths.
- Guns and Ammo ranks Tennessee as the 11th best state for gun owners while The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Tennessee gun laws an D-.
- According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in 2018, 931 gun permits were revoked, twice the number of revocations in 2017, and the highest number on record. 1,906 were suspended and 2,616 were denied.
- Background checks are not required for all gun purchases in Tennessee. Purchasing a gun through a private party, outside of a gun show, or via an online gun exchange without a background check is completely legal. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in 2018, over 20,000 firearm transactions were denied, the highest number on record. In 2018, 436 wanted persons were identified by the background check system when they attempted to purchase a firearm.
POLICIES WE SUPPORT
- Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales
- Strengthening child access prevention (CAP) laws (passage of MaKayla’s Law) to hold adult gun owners responsible when they leave a loaded gun accessible to a child and the child fires the gun and injures or kills themselves or another person.
- Red flag laws, or extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) that allow immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of a person believed to be an imminent risk to themselves or others.
- Strengthening domestic violence laws including policies that enforce firearm dispossession compliance for those with orders of protection filed against them or those with domestic violence convictions, as well as policies that require third party accountability.
- Ending the ban on funding CDC research on gun violence and gun violence prevention.
- An “assault weapons ban” that would prevent the commercial sale of military-style high capacity semi-automatic tactical rifles.
- Raising the age to buy long guns to 21.
- Requiring licensed gun sellers to take reasonable measures to prevent theft.
AREAS OF FOCUS
We use social media to raise awareness of the frequency of gun violence injuries and deaths in our state. By sharing news stories, we hope to show that while gun violence is certainly an issue in high crime areas, gun violence most often occurs between people who know each other – family members, estranged romantic partners, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances – and that too often it takes the form of accidental shootings (frequently of children) and suicides and murder-suicides. We also provide education and training on the issue of gun violence, current state and federal laws, and academic research on gun violence and gun violence prevention.
We have sought and identified evidenced-based outreach programs that have been shown to be most effective. We plan to implement programs such as The Brady Campaign’s ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign that educates parents about the importance of asking about firearms storage before their children play at a friend’s house and that encourages the dafe storage of firearms. We hope to work with schools to provide educational programs that use games and role playing to teach young children how to handle situations where they might encounter a gun and to encourage schools to bring in programs like SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) that teach nonviolent conflict resolution and alternatives to violence. We also want to work with high schools to provide programs like Sandy Hook Promise’s Say Something that educates youth to tell a responsible adult if they see, hear or read something indicating an individual may be a threat themselves or others.
We also will be working with survivors of gun violence and connecting them with resources they may need. And, we will continue to work with faith leaders who feel called to address the issue of gun violence.
Using research from the Centers of Disease Control, the Harvard Injury Control and Research Center, and relying on the research and opinions of organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Psychiatric Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Bar Association and others, we will continue to fight bills and oppose laws with negative public health consequences. We will also advocate for common sense, evidenced-based policies that will reduce the number of Tennesseans injured or killed by firearms.