Legislature Making Poor Choices As ‘Strong On The Second Amendment’

Legislature Making Poor Choices As ‘Strong On The Second Amendment’
Tennessee Firearms Association released a report today on the Attorney General Opinion 19-07 which addresses a 2017 change in Tennessee law concerning carrying firearms in “buildings” as opposed to “rooms” in which judicial proceedings are in progress.
John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, said “the TFA has been concerned about this 2017 change in the law and others that have been enacted since Tennessee’s legislature became subject to a super majority of Republicans in 2010. While some good pro-2nd Amendment laws have been enacted in that nine year window, there are others that do not lend any support to the assertions that the Republican Caucus in the General Assembly is a strong defender of the rights of the citizens which rights are expressly protected by the Second Amendment”.
In 2017, Rep. William Lamberth (R.) and Sen. John Stevens (R.) pushed through a change in a Tennessee statute which had prohibited firearms in courtrooms when court was in session and expanded the prohibition on firearms to the entire building – even if there is no posted notice that there is a courtroom or court proceedings taking place in the building. This expansion, for which there was no apparent need and there is no “notice” or “posting” requirement, makes it a Class E felony to even enter the building if court proceedings (which might be nothing more than a conference call being made by a judge who is somewhere in the building).
According to Harris, “Representative Terri Lynn Weaver worked with concerns raised by Tennessee Firearms Association over whether the law was a trap for citizens. Rep. Weaver sought an Attorney General opinion to better understand the new language and to assess what kind of legislative changes need to be made to fix this mess.”
According to the opinion, it may be a Class E felony for a gun owner, even a permit holder, to carry the firearm anywhere in the building even if there is no posting so long as the individual acted “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” and so long as some kind of judicial proceedings or hearings (even if not in a courtroom) were taking place. Thus, the individual might be going to a clerk’s office, to register to vote, to record a deed, or any number of other activities that do not even involve the court system and still be charged with a felony. On the other hand, if on the same day but perhaps at a time different time, there were no “court proceedings” in progress anywhere in the building the exact same conduct by the individual could be perfectly legal.
In addition, people who work in the building – for example the mayor or other elected officials or their staffs or even a visiting Supreme Court judge – might be able to have their personal firearms in the “building” on days or at times where no court proceedings are being conducting but at other times the same conduct could result in felony charges.
Harris concluded, “Tennesseans have a fundamental right to expect that laws are clearly written and understandable. Tennesseans have a right – now protected by the United States Constitution – to have their rights to keep, bear and wear arms free from infringements particularly ones that are arbitrary, capricious and poorly written. Tennesseans have a right to expect elected officials to uphold their oaths to the constitution to defend and protect their rights rather than to burden them with needless and poorly written laws.” According to Harris, “Tennesseans have allowed the Republicans to have a super majority in the legislature for the last 9 years. That might be okay but Tennesseans need to seriously ask themselves now with a scandal involving the Republican Speaker and other concerns whether certain specific people who have been elected and who continue to serve are the right people to hold offices of public stewardship and to serve as defenders and protectors of the people’s rights and interests.”
The TFA is a nonprofit Tennessee corporation that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy group. TFA’s focus is on issues that relate the rights and interests of Tennesseans under the 2nd Amendment as well as related interests in hunting, sport shooting, collecting and state sovereignty. TFA has been repeatedly recognized by the Tennessee Legislature for its dedication to protecting the rights and interests of Tennesseans.

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