Learn more about the policies we are advocating for below
Extreme Risk Laws
As Nashville’s Police Chief recently confirmed, Tennessee’s current laws would not have allowed authorities to temporarily seize the weapons of the Covenant School shooter even if the shooter’s parents had reported concerns about the shooter’s mental health. (Source: The Tennessean)
But many states do have laws that would have kept firearms out of the shooter’s hands. In those states, laws known as Extreme Risk laws–sometimes called Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOS)–would allow immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a civil court for an order to temporarily remove firearms from someone showing clear warning signs of violence.
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 firearms. The firearms they already own will also be held by law enforcement or another authorized party while the order is in effect. (Sources: Everytown, Giffords)
19 states – including southern peer states Florida and Virginia – and Washington, DC have enacted Extreme Risk laws. Florida’s law was passed in the wake of the Parkland School shooting in 2018. (Sources: Everytown, Giffords)
Evidence shows that Extreme Risk laws save lives.
- Studies show that most perpetrators of school violence exhibited behavioral warning signs that caused others to be concerned. The most recent report found that 100 percent of perpetrators showed concerning behaviors, and in 77 percent of shootings, at least one person — most often a peer — knew about their plan. (Source: Everytown)
- The data also shows that the laws are effective in preventing firearm suicides. For instance, after implementing Extreme Risk laws, the rate of firearm suicide in Connecticut and Indiana decreased by 14 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.
For policymakers looking for common sense reforms to better protect kids and schools, these laws are both practical and attractive. According to Vanderbilt polling, more than 63% of Tennessee parents believe ERPOS would make Tennessee schools safer. (Source: Tennessean; Fall 2022 poll)
Universal Background Checks
Background checks ensure that a potential buyer IS legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm due to a past felony conviction, a domestic abuse restraining order, and/or prohibiting histories of mental illness. (Source: Everytown.)
These checks are typically run both at the point of sale – when someone buys a firearm – and during the permitting process – which regulates how and where the firearm can be carried. But today, background checks in Tennessee are not being performed as regularly as in other states, putting Tennesseans at higher risk.
Federal law requires federally licensed firearm dealers to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Yet, today only 40 percent of firearms sold in the U.S. are sold through a federally licensed dealer. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics) Background checks are not required for private firearm sales in Tennessee – including sales made online and at firearm shows. Universal background checks close this loophole by requiring background checks on all firearm sales – not just on the sale of firearms from licensed firearm dealers. (Source: Everytown)
Tennesseans also previously underwent a background check and training to receive a permit to carry a handgun in public spaces. But in 2021, Governor Lee signed NRA-backed legislation that removed that requirement for adults 21 and older if they are legally eligible to possess the firearm and are lawfully present in the place where they are carrying the firearm. (Source: Associated Press, Giffords)
On March 27 – just hours after the tragedy at Covenant – a federal judge issued a ruling that cleared the way for this law to be expanded to include people 18 and older. (Source: Associated Press) Republican lawmakers had already introduced legislation to make this change, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol has already stopped enforcing the 18-20 prohibition. (Source: Associated Press)
As of 2021, 21 states – including peer states Virginia and North Carolina – and Washington, DC have enacted laws that require background checks for all handgun sales at the point of sale and/or as part of a purchase permit. (Source: Everytown)
Evidence shows that Universal Background Checks keep firearms away from dangerous people.
- Since the federal background check requirement was adopted in 1994, over 3 million people legally prohibited from possessing a firearm have been stopped from purchasing a firearm or denied a permit to purchase. More than 35% of these denials involved people convicted of felony offenses. (Source: Giffords)
- Individuals who commit crimes with firearms may intentionally seek to purchase firearms from sellers who aren’t required to run background checks. Purchasers from Armslist.com, a major online firearms marketplace, were nearly seven times as likely to have a firearm-prohibiting criminal record than people attempting to buy firearms from licensed dealers. (Source: Giffords) In fact, around 80% of firearms used for criminal purposes are purchased through private firearm sales. Nearly all (96%) of inmates convicted of firearm offenses obtained their firearm from an unlicensed seller even though they were prohibited from possessing a firearm. (Source: Giffords)
- States that go beyond federal law and require background checks for unlicensed sales are associated with a 10 percent lower homicide rate, as well as lower rates of firearm suicide and firearm trafficking. (Source: Everytown)
- These stories provide a few illustrations of tragedies that could have been prevented if a background check was required when the shooter bought their firearm. (Source: Everytown)
Tennesseans overwhelmingly see universal background checks as an effective policy to increase school safety. According to Vanderbilt polling, more than 70% of Tennessee parents believe universal background checks would make Tennessee schools safer. (Source: Tennessean; Fall 2022 poll)
Safe Storage Requirements
Secure storage laws prevent unauthorized access by children by requiring firearm owners to lock up their firearms. The strongest systems have consequences for any failure to secure a firearm. More narrow policies, also called “Child Access Prevention laws,” penalize firearm owners only if a child actually gains access to a firearm. (Source: Everytown)
Child access prevention and safe storage laws are incredibly important tools to reduce firearm deaths and injuries among children and teens. Research has found that secure firearm storage reduces youth firearm violence dramatically, with households that lock firearms and ammunition seeing up to 85% fewer unintentional injuries. State storage laws also incentivize better practices, with researchers finding they reduce injuries and deaths among young people. (Source: Everytown)
These laws also promote responsible firearm storage practices and are important measures for preventing firearms from falling into the wrong hands. (Source: Giffords)
While 24 states have adopted these policies, including southern peer states like North Carolina, Texas, and Florida, today in Tennessee, there are no safe storage or child access prevention laws on the books.
Required Reporting of Lost and Stolen Firearms
It is estimated that over 380,000 guns are stolen from private firearm owners each year – nearly a quarter of which are taken from vehicles. Lawmakers can pass laws to require firearm owners to report stolen firearms to law enforcement for investigation immediately when they go missing.
Reporting lost or stolen firearms to local law enforcement may reduce underground firearm sales and illegal firearm trafficking. Yet today, Tennessee does not currently have a law requiring a firearm owner to report a lost or stolen firearm.
Evidence shows policies that require the reporting of lost and stolen firearms reduces illegal gun movement.
- Lost and stolen firearm reporting policies reduces illegal firearm movement by 46%.
- One study found that mandatory-reporting laws for lost and stolen firearms were associated with a 30 percent lower risk that guns would be purchased in that state and recovered after a crime in another state.
15 states, including Ohio and Virginia, have adopted this policy. (Source: Every Town Research/Stolen Guns Pose a Tremendous Risk to Public Safety; Every Town Research/Lost and Stolen Reporting)