Published May 3, 2021
By John Harris [Tennessee Firearms Association] –
Last week the Tennessee Legislature passed its annual budget for the state. That signals for practical purposes that the Legislature is in “wind down” mode and handling a limited number of matters.
The activity for last week and the calendar for this week reflect this status.
Events to note during the week ending April 30:
HB25/SB1148 is a bill that is intended to strengthen the civil immunity protections for those who use justifiable force to oppose or protect themselves from a violent criminal act. This bill passed this week almost entirely on party lines. TFA has already done a full review on this bill. TFA worked closely with Rep. Chris Todd, Rep. Mike Carter, Rep. Clay Doggett and Senator Dawn White on this bill.
HB18/SB318 – this is the bill by Rep. Bruce Griffey and Senator Joey Hensley that would have implemented a permitless carry law that is much more aligned with the Second Amendment that what the Governor and his team pushed through this year. Although it is set for a final hearing next week in the House Finance subcommittee, the Senate has already deferred the bill to the first calendar of Senate Judiciary in 2022 killing this bill for this year.
HB446/SB557 is titled the “Tennessee Firearm Protection Act”.
It passed both houses this week and is expected to become law. The bill amends existing Tennessee Code Annotated Section 38-3-115 but the amendment is really nothing of substance.
An amendment to the bill added this language “A violation of this section by a state or local government entity may be reviewed by the office of the attorney general and reporter and the general assembly and may result in the entity’s loss of funding from the state for the fiscal year following the violation.”
However, the language does nothing to protect Tennesseans or their rights. Stating that a violation “may” be reviewed by the “attorney general and reporter and the general assembly” raises the question of whether both of them have a duty to review alleged violations and/or if either of them can act independently.
Further, the only consequence contained in the new legislation is that a violation “may” result in loss of state funding for the next fiscal year. But, the Legislature already had that authority even without the language being added to the statute. So, it appears that the bill will be something to claim in a victory lap but there does not appear to be anything in it that really protects our rights if a local official or state official or state or local agency decides that they want to aid and assist Joe Biden or the federal government infringe our rights.
HB928/SB1335 is referred to as the Tennessee Second Amendment Sanctuary Act. It has passed in the Senate and is set for the House floor on May 3.
The bill declares that any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government“, that either the US Supreme Court or the Tennessee Supreme Court has declared violates the 2nd Amendment or Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution is “null and void”.
Note that the law does not apply to state laws nor does it apply to local ordinances.
Further, it is not clear what this accomplishes since it is generally the consequence that a law or enactment is void if either of those courts declares that it violates either the state or federal constitution, at least in Tennessee. Once such a judicial declaration has occurred, the legislation prohibits state and local officials from enforcing the subject law and states that doing so would make that person subject to a separate action for removal from office.
Bills on notice for the week of May 3:
Among the bills that are reflected in the report to be heard next week are:
HB761/SB551 would remove the sales and use taxes on gun safes and firearms safety devices. It is set for hearing in the Senate Finance Committee and the House Finance Subcommittee on May 3.
HB928, the Second Amendment Sanctuary Act, is set for the House Floor on May 3. We are not aware of any amendments that would strengthen the bill.