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Tennessee: Your Action Needed - Big Week Ahead for Gun Bills in the Volunteer State

Monday, February 21, 2022

Tennessee: Your Action Needed - Big Week Ahead for Gun Bills in the Volunteer State

This week, numerous Second Amendment-related measures will be considered in the Tennessee Legislature.  NRA Members and Second Amendment supporters are encouraged to remain active and in constant contact with their elected officials as they debate both pro- and anti-gun bills.  Those measures to be considered are outlined below:

Pro-Gun

HB 2330 strengthens the right-to-carry of Tennessee residents by turning the current enhanced handgun carry permit into a lifetime permit, while eliminating the existing lifetime handgun carry permit framework. In short, it would turn the standard permit into a lifetime permit and get rid of the existing lifetime permit language.  This would have distinct benefits: 

  1. Those seeking the new lifetime enhanced permit would only be subject to the existing standard enhanced permit’s application fee of $100; a $200 savings for those seeking a lifetime permit. 
  2. Rather than only being open to those over the age of 21, the new lifetime enhanced permit would be open to those over 18 and under 21 with military backgrounds that may obtain a standard enhanced permit at present.

HB 1735 lowers the age at which a person could exercise their Right-to-Carry without a permit to 18, regardless of military background.  It would also lower the age to obtain an enhanced handgun carry permit to 18.

HB 1898 alters the enhanced handgun permit carry statute (T. C. A. § 39-17-1351), the temporary handgun carry permit statute (T. C. A. § 39-17-1365), and the concealed handgun carry permit statute (T. C. A. § 39-17-1366) to provide that these permit holders may carry a firearm for self-defense rather than just a handgun.

Anti-Gun

HB 1830 seeks to enact a raft of anti-gun measures through the guise of “public health” measures:

  1. It encourages and funds anti-gun "public health" research.  The legislation would also require the development of a firearm “buyback” program.  First, these types of programs are not “buybacks,” as the government never owned these firearms, and thus cannot buy the gun back. These are properly understood as gun turn-in programs. This gun turn-in program is particularly pernicious, as it would require the destruction of the collected firearms rather than offer opportunities for these firearms to reenter the lawful stream of commerce.  Research shows that these programs do not work and this has been understood for decades.  
  2. Further, this legislation would diminish patient privacy and harm the doctor-patient relationship.  Your NRA-ILA opposes this type of state-encouraged intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.  Moreover, this type of measure poses privacy risks for gun owners. Given a doctor’s perceived authority, patients may not know that they have the right to refuse to answer questions regarding firearm ownership. Also, there have been circumstances where patients have been retaliated against for refusing to share personal firearm information.

HB 2087 creates a Class C misdemeanor for storing a firearm or ammunition in an unattended motor vehicle or boat “unless the firearm or firearm ammunition is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, utility or glove box, or a locked container securely affixed to the motor vehicle or boat.”  The legislation would also heighten the existing storage requirement under the parking lot statute.  HB2087 also creates a lost or stolen firearm reporting requirement whereby a person would be required to report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering it missing. A violation would be a Class C misdemeanor.

HB 2620 requires anyone with firearms in the same residence as a minor under 18 years of age, to store those firearms, unloaded in locked containers, and to store ammunition in separate, locked containers. There are limited exceptions for firearms carried on the person, and firearms that are within two feet of both distance and eyesight.

This outlandish bill effectively bans home-defense firearms for anyone with a minor in the home. Many Tennesseans currently keep a loaded handgun, rifle, and/or shotgun locked in a quick access safe by the bed, ready to deploy immediately if needed, but still secured from access by children. HB 2620 would discourage and curtail the manner in which parents introduce their children to firearms, by placing a legal burden on the parents for a child’s malicious or benign conduct. In more rural parts of the country, high school students have been known to hunt in the morning and, as unwise as it might be, at times neglect to take their firearms out of their vehicle before heading to school. You can imagine any number of benign scenarios where a high school student might mistakenly have a firearm in their car on school property after hunting or target shooting over the weekend. While these students would likely be severely punished, there is no reason to foist a misdemeanor on their parents.

With the extreme nature of the above anti-gun measures, it is important that you please contact members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and ask them to Oppose House Bills 1830, 2087, and 2620.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.