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As the 2022 Legislative Session Begins Today in Tennessee, Here’s What to Know About Gun Violence in the State

January 11, 2022

As the Tennessee legislature returns to Nashville for the start of the 2022 legislative session today, lawmakers will once again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. 2021 was marked by staggering levels of gun violence fueled by the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. Across the nation, we saw historic levels of gunfire on school grounds and record homicide numbers in some cities, including Memphis. Shootings across the states underscored the deadly effects of America’s lax gun legislation, and the high profile trials of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers and Kyle Rittenhouse highlighted the dangers of open carry and ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws. As the stress and rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic extend into the new year, meaningful action on gun safety remains more critical than ever.

Despite record levels of gun violence in 2021, Tennessee lawmakers continued to weaken the state’s gun laws. Last year, the legislature passed a permitless carry bill allowing people to carry loaded handguns in public with no background check and no safety training over the objections of law enforcement, faith leaders, medical professionals, and more. The signing came despite the fact that 93 percent of Tennessee voters support requiring a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public — including 92 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of gun-owning households.

This year, lawmakers should protect Tennesseans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and, instead, support gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with taking action on secure firearm storage, creating a process for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and funding violence intervention programs.

What to know about Secure Storage in Tennessee: 

  • According to Nashville Metro police, 811 guns were stolen from vehicles in the city this year — over 60% of all guns reported stolen in 2021.
  • According to Knoxville police, by July of this year, over 60 guns were reported stolen from vehicles in Knoxville, and in over half of those cases, the vehicle was left unlocked.
  • Research shows that stolen guns undermine the enforcement of our gun laws and often end up in the possession of someone who was legally prohibited from having guns.
  • Nationally, the majority of the 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 were recovered in connection with crimes, including more than 1,500 violent acts.
  • To prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, Tennessee lawmakers should take action to enforce secure firearm storage in cars, homes, and any other places where guns are left unattended.
  • More information about secure storage is available here.

What to know about Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Tennessee: 

  • When a person is in crisis and considering harming themselves or others, family members and law enforcement are often the first people to see the warning signs.
  • Extreme Risk laws allow loved ones or law enforcement to intervene by petitioning a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns. If the court finds that someone poses a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns. 
  • These laws can help de-escalate emergency situations such as gun suicides or mass shootings.
  • By creating a process for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Tennessee lawmakers can help prevent gun violence before it happens.
  • More information on Extreme Risk laws is available here.

What to know about Violence Intervention Programs in Tennessee:

  • Communities across Tennessee are suffering from the impacts of gun violence.
  • Local violence reduction, intervention, and prevention programs can help reduce gun violence in some of the communities most heavily impacted.
  • By using funds allocated to the state by the American Rescue Plan Act to support and expand violence intervention programs, the Tennessee legislature can help community-based partnerships and non-profit organizations conduct life-saving work throughout the state.
  • More information on violence intervention programs is available here.

What to know about gun violence in Tennessee

Statistics about gun violence in Tennessee are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Tennessee gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here

If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Tennessee Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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