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 support the second amendment.
We do not advocate confiscating guns.
We do not advocate taking guns away from law abiding citizens.
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 common sense measures to reduce the number of families torn apart by gun violence.
>> TENNESSEE HAS A GUN VIOLENCE PROBLEM
- Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville have all broken homicide records over the last two years (2016-2017).
- Nashville has seen a 160% increase in homicides between 2013 and 2017.
- Tennessee is 13th in the nation for death by firearm for all intents and 12th for homicide only, according to 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Tennessee is the 4th most dangerous state, according to violent crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report.
- Tennessee is 4th 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. 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.
- Since January 2015, at least 28 Tennessee children have been fatally shot when they or another child gained access to an unsecured, loaded gun and pulled the trigger.
- Gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths in Tennessee.
- 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 F.
- According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in 2017, 449 gun permits were revoked, the highest number on record. 1,803 were suspended and 2,882 were denied. Since 2010, 2,284 gun permits have been revoked and 11,391 were suspended.
- In 2013, Tennessee passed an NRA-written law to keep all permit holder information confidential, making it illegal to collect data on permit holders who use firearms to threaten or commit crimes.
- 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 2017, nearly 21,000 firearm transactions were denied, the highest number on record. In 2017, 451 wanted persons were identified by the background check system when they attempted to purchase a firearm.
We respect the Second Amendment. We also believe that we can reduce the number of people injured and killed by guns every year without taking away the right of law abiding citizens to purchase a gun.
>> 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.
- Gun violence restraining orders (GVROs) or “Families Know First” policies that allow immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of a person who represents a likely immediate threat 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.
- Preventing those on terrorist watch lists from being able to legally purchase firearms.
- 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 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.