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New Gun Laws Under Consideration By The Tennessee Legislature

In the first two months of 2017, state lawmakers in Tennessee have already proposed several new laws concerning gun ownership and use. These include both "pro-gun" and "anti-gun" bills. Though it's too early to predict with certainty, some of these will probably be enacted into law while others may languish or be defeated.

Here are brief summaries of the gun law reform bills that have been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly as of February 28, 2017:

"Pro-gun" bills

Open carry - House Bill 40 sponsored by Representative James Van Huss (R-6) and Senate Bill 147 sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-17). This would allow lawful gun owners to openly carry their firearms without a permit.

Criminal and civil immunity for lawful use in defense - House Bill 1006 sponsored by Representative Andy Holt (R-3) and Senate Bill 861 sponsored by Senator Kerry Roberts (R-25). If enacted, this legislation would give criminal and civil immunity to a person who lawfully uses a firearm in self-defense, defense of another, or defense from a person committing a criminal offense.

Expedited permission to carry for domestic violence victims - House Bill 752 sponsored by Representative Tilman Goins (R-10) and Representative Debra Moody (R-81), and Senate Bill 983 sponsored by Senator Dolores Gresham (R-26). This proposed law would allow a person under an order of protection and who is not otherwise a prohibited person to carry a firearm for a period of 60 days after the temporary order of protection is granted. This would bridge the gap between the issuance of the temporary order and the completion of the Tennessee handgun carry permit process.

Restrictions on local gun laws and ordinances at variance with state gun laws - House Bill 508 sponsored by Representative William Lamberth (R-44), Representative Andy Holt (R-3) and Senate Bill 445 sponsored by Senator John Stevens (R-24). This proposed legislation would do several things:

  • Prevent local government entities from prohibiting or restricting firearms on state or local property unless certain conditions are met.
  • Prevent citizens with no criminal intent from being placed in legal jeopardy because they passed through a municipality while in possession of a firearm.
  • Create a private cause of action for a party that is adversely affected by a local ordinance or policy on firearms that is preempted by state law.

Exemption for active-duty service members and veterans - House Bill 27 sponsored by Representative Timothy Hill (R-3) and Senate Bill 24 sponsored by  Senator Mark Green (R-22). This bill would exempt people with experience serving as military police, special operations, or special forces from concealed carry permit firing range requirements.

"Anti-gun" bills

Prohibition of private sale and transfer of firearms - House Bill 1319 sponsored by Representative Mike Stewart (D-52) and Senate Bill 1097 sponsored by Senator Sara Kyle (D-30). This would require any sale or transfer of firearms to be made only through a federally licensed gun dealer, with some exceptions. 

Creation of state "Do Not Sell" registry - House Bill 962 sponsored by Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. , (D-58) and Senate Bill 671 sponsored by Senator Lee Harris (D-29). This would require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations to create a voluntary "Do Not Sell" firearm registry. Anyone could request that their name be placed on or removed from the list. The bill would also make it a criminal offense to transfer a firearm to someone on the registry.

Restriction on firearm possession - House Bill 961 sponsored by Representative Johnnie Turner (D-85) and Senate Bill 670 sponsored by Senator Lee Harris (D-29). This legislation would authorize a law enforcement officer to seek a temporary order of protection based on the officer's belief that the subject of the order poses a danger to the protected person. Once issued, the temporary order would prohibit the subject of the order from possessing a gun.

A conviction for violating any Tennessee or federal gun law can have serious consequences. If you have been charged with this type of crime, seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.