The topic of gun violence is complex. Responsible gun ownership is part of our history, and is much of the context we find ourselves in today. However, the number of senseless acts of gun violence is trending quickly and dangerously in the wrong direction. Understanding the contributing factors – which range from firearms laws to how a person uses the gun to community safety – is the first step to truly supporting and advocating for a solution.
Here’s a quick recap of THE SAFETY PROBLEM we’re focusing on
As Tennesseans, we care about the safety of our communities. We pass a lot of laws and take actions as citizens that protect those around us – simple things like seatbelt laws or designating a smoking section.
- It’s clear that firearms are becoming an increasing threat to the safety we seek as a community.
- In fact, more children die as a result of gun violence in Tennessee than car accidents or cancer.
Want to read more about the problem? 📂 Safer TN one pager with statistics
- To make a really complex issue simple: today’s state laws have a few gaps that, when strengthened, can enhance responsible firearm ownership and make Tennesseans safer. Right now, some firearms end up being stored in a way that could lead to an avoidable accident. At worst, they are being purchased by people who cannot or should not have access to firearms.
- Tennessee is behind most other states in passing firearms legislation that has been proven to keep communities safer. The result is a public health crisis in our state that we cannot ignore. Our concerns are grounded in fact, given that we rank #9 out of 50 states for the highest rate of gun violence.
Now, let’s learn about the THE SOLUTIONS we are proposing for the special session
We want to see change that makes sense for Tennessee. Many states have passed different and, in many cases, more robust legislation. However, we believe these common sense solutions are best for our state right now and will have a dramatic impact on the safety of our communities. We are focused on showing state legislators our support for three types of laws:
Today, not all individuals who purchase a firearm in Tennessee are required to undergo a background check. As a result, individuals who are legally prohibited from possessing a firearm can easily purchase one. Our state should do more to ensure firearms sales are limited to those who can legally own and possess firearms.
Solution # 1: Temporary Transfer Laws
This type of law allows a court to review evidence on whether an individual poses an imminent risk to themselves or others. The court then makes a determination on whether firearms should be temporarily transferred away from the individual’s possession and into safekeeping for the short-term, to best protect the individual and the public. These laws give authorities the ability to intervene based on verified warning signs rather than waiting for the tragedy to occur. Want more details? Read the policy brief.
Solution # 2: Stronger Firearm Storage in Vehicles
Tennessee is home to many responsible firearm owners. Just like we continue to pass laws about safely driving a car, we can always do more to help firearm owners securely store their firearm. This includes laws to incentivize owners to store firearms in a locked and inaccessible place in their vehicle or boat, and timely report a lost or stolen weapon. Want more details? Visit the stronger firearm storage policy page.
Solution # 3: Consistent background check requirements
Today, not all individuals who purchase a firearm in Tennessee are required to undergo a background check. As a result, individuals who are legally prohibited from possessing a firearm can easily purchase one. Our state should do more to ensure firearms sales are limited to those who can legally own and possess firearms. Want more details? Read more on the background check requirements policy page.
We are not the only state with laws like the ones we are proposing to make our state safer. In fact, Florida enacted a temporary transfer law in 2018 following the tragedy at Parkland, and data shows that it has prevented additional violence. In Indiana and Connecticut, statistics show that these same laws have lowered suicide by firearms rate (down 7.5% and 14%, respectively). Today, we believe these are the best policy solutions specifically for Tennessee. Want more details? Read our policy brief.