Today, both the House and Senate adjourned “sine die,” marking the end of an emotional special session on public safety
Dear Safer TN Coalition,
Today, both the House and Senate adjourned “sine die,” marking the end of an emotional special session on public safety. What started with 100+ bills filed, concluded with a near stalemate between the House and the Senate. Small steps were made toward firearm safety with three bills passed by both chambers, all of which Voices for a Safer Tennessee supported. (See bill recap below.)
It is understandable that this chaotic and abrupt end to the special session has left many Tennesseans feeling frustrated. Your frustration is warranted, and we share in it. Much more needs to be done to make communities across our state safer, and we are channeling our frustration into continuing the work.
While the special session did not substantively address firearm violence in our state, there were small steps taken toward our core policy priorities: temporary transfer laws, stronger firearm storage laws and consistent background check requirements. These small steps have opened the door for important discussions that will continue into the 2024 legislative session and beyond.
We reflect on the last several months with great appreciation for all the ways Voices for a Safer Tennessee coalition members have shown up and engaged in the legislative process. THANK YOU! From thoughtfully contacting your legislators asking for action to respectfully sitting in committee meetings and hearings, our nonpartisan approach has built strong momentum. Together, we’ve grown our membership to more than 20,000 Tennesseans from all 95 counties, and raised more than $300,000 from over 700 donors in the last week alone. Our approach is resonating, and it will take us forward from a position of strength.
So what’s next? As we gear up for the 2024 legislative session, we must continue to keep the need for firearm safety legislation top of mind for our policymakers, as well as with our friends, family and neighbors. So we will continue the conversations, doing the research, and be ready to educate and take action when session is back in January. Additionally, our board of directors will be hard at work finalizing a long-term strategic plan that will guide the organization’s continued work and advocacy into the future. We will share more about our planning and how you can continue to be involved along the way.
Thank you for joining the chorus of voices committed to creating a safer Tennessee. It will take all of us to make the bipartisan change that the majority of Tennesseans want and expect a reality.
Voices for a Safer Tennessee
Board Chair and Treasurer
The following bills that Safer TN supported passed both the House and the Senate and will be presented to Governor Bill Lee to sign into law.
HB7012/SB7085 – provides free firearm locks to TN residents upon request, establishes a PSA campaign for secure storage, incorporates secure storage into firearm safety courses, and makes gun safes tax free.
HB7013/SB7086 – shortens the timeframe in which the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must be notified of an individual’s final disposition by a court from 30 days to 72 hours.
SB 7089/ HB 7070 – an appropriations bill that will provide the following noteworthy investments:
- $1.1 million in funding for a gun safety advertisement campaign (funds the PSA campaign established through HB7012/SB7085)
- $12 million for mental health professional bonuses
- $4 million to increase behaviorial health safety net grants
- $50 million non-recurring to mental health agencies that contract with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- $30 million non-recurring for safety upgrades for institutions of higher education