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What to Know About Gun Safety Ahead of 2020 Legislative Session in Tennessee

January 9, 2020

On Tuesday, Tennessee lawmakers will return to Nashville for the 2020 legislative session. Over the past several years, the Tennessee legislature has continually weakened the state’s gun laws despite a gun violence crisis that takes more than 1,000 Tennessean lives per year. Between 2008 and 2017, the state’s rate of gun deaths increased by 19 percent. 

This session, volunteers with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will urge their representatives to reject efforts to eliminate the state’s handgun permitting system and reject efforts to arm teachers. Volunteers will also urge lawmakers to support legislation requiring gun owners to secure firearms stored in cars. 

More information on these policies is below. If you’d like to connect with a Tennessee Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out. 

Permitless Carry: Last year, volunteers with Moms Demand Action stood with a coalition of gun safety instructors in opposition to a bill that weakened the permitting system’s training requirement. Now, lawmakers have once again filed permitless carry legislation in an attempt to further weaken the permitting system that requires that people carrying a concealed gun should first pass a basic safety test and undergo a background check in order to get a permit. Ninety-three percent of recent 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. 

Secure Storage in Cars: In 2013 and 2014, the Tennessee legislature passed laws allowing gun owners to keep loaded handguns and rifles in their cars without a permit. Law enforcement officials have pointed to these lax gun laws when discussing a dramatic spike in the number of guns stolen from cars and trucks across Tennessee and a corresponding spike in crimes using stolen guns. This session, Moms Demand Action volunteers will urge the legislature to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by requiring gun owners to secure firearms stored in cars.

Arming Teachers: In 2019, Tennessee lawmakers proposed legislation that would allow public school employees to carry guns in Tennessee schools, even if school officials have safety concerns. No evidence shows that arming teachers make children safer. In fact, putting guns in the hands of teachers increases the chances that a teachers’ gun will unintentionally discharge or fall into the wrong hands. Such incidents have happened in Tennessee and across the country, even when the person carrying a gun in school is a school resource officer with much more training than a teacher. Moms Demand Action volunteers will oppose any renewed effort to put guns in the hands of teachers. 

More information on gun violence in Tennessee is available here

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