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Investigation Finds Nearly 1 in 8 People in Tennessee Who Tried To Buy a Gun on From Investigators Were Legally Prohibited From Buying or Possessing a Gun

February 11, 2019

Report Comes As the Tennessee Legislature Considers Bills That Would Undermine the Permitting System

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ― The Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today responded after a yearlong Everytown investigation uncovered nearly 1.2 million ads on Armslist for firearm sales that would not legally require a criminal background check. Those ads included 83,656 ads for guns for sale in Tennessee, the third-highest number of ads in the country.

As part of the Armslist investigation, investigators posted ads in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Ohio for gun sales that would not require a background check. Of the people who responded with interest in buying a gun in Tennessee, nearly one in eight buyers was legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun — and would have failed a background check at a licensed gun dealer.

Despite this, Tennessee lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that would undermine the state’s permitting system by making it easy for people to carry loaded handguns in public without a background check. As of last week’s filing deadline, Tennessee lawmakers have filed bills that would weaken the permitting system and prevent law enforcement from enforcing the law, along with bills which would undermine the efficacy of the permit system’s background check. The intent of these bills is to move Tennessee closer to becoming one of the small handful of states that allow permitless carry. The few states that have eliminated their permitting requirement altogether have seen a substantial increase in firearm violence.

“This investigation makes it clear that it is far too easy for someone with a dangerous history to get a gun in Tennessee,” said Kat McRitchie, volunteer leader with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Yet our lawmakers remain fixated on laws that threaten our permitting system and put our communities in danger, instead of working on legislation that would actually make Tennessee safer.”

This report comes as Tennessee lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that removes safeguards that ensure people with dangerous histories don’t carry loaded handguns in public places. A poll conducted in 2017 showed that 93 percent of Tennessee voters – including 93 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of gun owners and 89 percent of current permit holders – support the state’s current permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public.

Everytown also unveiled a new website,, which allows people to search and compare the national, state and county numbers of ads placed on Armslist for gun sales where no background check was legally required.

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