guns

TN Supreme Court: You can’t claim self-defense if ‘engaged in unlawful activity’

Press release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – The Supreme Court of Tennessee clarified the law of self-defense when the person making the claim is engaged in unlawful activity at the time the need for self-defense occurred. This clarification is important because some trial courts have not allowed defendants to assert self-defense when it appeared they were engaged in unlawful activity at the time they used force to defend themselves.

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Harwell orders ‘active shooter’ training for House staff

House Speaker Beth Harwell has directed House staffers to attend mandatory classes on how to survive an “active shooter” incident and how not to commit sexual harassment, reports the Times Free Press.

The active-shooter training comes as legislative workers prepare to settle into their new Cordell Hull Building home, where handgun-carry permit holders will be allowed to go armed.

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Haslam sticks to his guns in banning firearms at Capitol

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he has no intention of changing his administration’s stance on barring handgun-carry permit holders from bringing their weapons into Tennessee’s state Capitol even though they will be allowed in the Cordell Hull Building where state legislators have offices and hold hearings, reports the Times Free Press.

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Speakers OK guns at the legislature — after move to Cordell Hull quarters

Handgun permit holders were prohibited from bringing their weapons into the Legislative Plaza, but when the General Assembly relocates to the remodeled Cordell Hull building, permit holders will be able to keep their guns when visiting lawmakers or attending committee meetings.

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally announced the new policy in a joint statement to media:

“Carry permit holders will be allowed to carry their firearms into the Cordell Hull Building, the new home of the Tennessee General Assembly. Tennessee carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographics in our state. To receive a permit, a citizen must be fingerprinted, submit to a background check and receive firearm training. Permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security. A thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit. Once that validity is established, a permit holder will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment while visiting their state government.”

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Haslam: TN officials consider how to deal with mass shooting

Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee’s homeland security officials are already preparing to deal with a mass shooting such as occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday, reports the Jackson Sun. He has also ordered flags at state building flown at half-staff today in honor of the victims at a country music concert in Nevada.

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Legislator uses campaign money for machine gun ammo

State Rep. Judd Matheny, currently running for the Republican nomination to the 6th Congressional District seat, used $1,600 from his legislative campaign funds to pay for ammunition fired during target shooting for lawmakers with machine guns in April, reports The Tennessean.

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Repeal of TN ban on gun silencers confuses some would-be buyers

Since the Legislature repealed a state law banning firearm silencers earlier this year, some Tennesseans have been going into gun stores thinking they could now buy one, reports the Kingsport Times-News. But the state law change had no impact on federal law that requires approval from the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division and thus the “Tennessee Hearing Protection Act” had no real impact on the already-in-place procedure for getting a silencer, also known as a suppressor.

“The people in Nashville signed the paperwork, and people think you can now come in and buy your silencer by just doing a gun check,” (Sally) Simpson (owner of The Gun Rack in Kingsport) said. “But silencers are regulated by the federal government, so they overrule the state government.” (She said a dozen people per day either visit her store or call wanting to buy a silencer.)

…If you wish to purchase a silencer, you must go to a licensed firearm dealer, fill out an application and send $200 to the ATF, which then does a background check on the buyer, Simpson said, noting that some folks are waiting up to a year to hear back from the federal agency.

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Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

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Haslam on calls for veto of gun bill: ‘Probably wasting your breath’

Questioned about the most controversial gun bill approved by the legislature this year, Gov. Bill Haslam says there’s no point in vetoing a measure that passed by lopsided majorities.

The bill (HB508) makes it easier – perhaps even profitable – for gunowners and groups such as the National Rifle Association to sue cities and counties over any restrictions imposed on carrying firearms by persons with a concealed carry permit. A successful plaintiff, under the bill, could get triple the attorney fees paid in a legal challenge to a local ordinance.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and several groups have urged Haslam to veto the measure. Asked if he will, Haslam said he’s still officially reviewing the measure, then added (as quoted by WPLN):

“You can veto it, but if something passes two-to-one, you’re probably wasting your breath,” Haslam says. “So you’re better off to try to work on the front end to try to get the bill in as good a shape as it can be.”

In Tennessee, lawmakers can override a governor’s veto with a simple majority.

The bill passed the House 70-24. The Senate vote was 26-6. It also came back to the House for concurrence on a Senate amendment and that vote was 71-14. The bill reached his desk on May 18, according to the legislative website. Under the state constitution, he has 10 days from that date — excluding Sundays — to make a decision (which, it appears, would actually fall on Memorial Day).  Besides signing the bill or vetoing it, the governor can let it become law without his signature

A clash of press releases on 2017 TN legislature’s gunfights

In press releases, both the National Rifle Association, which advocates for less gun control, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which advocates for more, are pretty much proclaiming victory in the 2017 Tennessee legislative session.

That perhaps indicates the session was pretty much a mixed bag on the gun front. Here are the contrasting press releases:

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