Tennessee – -(Ammoland.com)- Today, the Tennessee Senate Judiciary committee unanimously approved a bill (SB2528 by Ketron and HB2254 by Sargent) which will and is intended specifically to take rights away from nonviolent felons who have already served their time and completed their punishment. The question is why?
Prior to 2007, nonviolent felons, perhaps someone who wrote a bad check and later made restitution, could get their “full rights of citizenship” restored under state law once they had completed their sentence or terms of probation. As a result of a change in the law in 2008, which it appears the sponsors did not even fully understand, nonviolent felons cannot possess a handgun. However, because of federal law, the fact that Tennessee restricts any right to own any firearm federal law “bootstraps” and prohibits the person from owning any firearm.
In addition, the 2008 Legislative change appears to have been oblivious to a prior Tennessee Supreme Court decision which essentially held that even a court order restoring the “full rights of citizenship” to a person with a felony conviction does not restore the right to possess a firearm.
Nevertheless, TCA 39-17-1308(b) has provided that the defenses to illegal carrying of a firearm were not available to those with violent felonies or felony drug offense. By omitting non-violent felons, the statute appeared to make way for a nonviolent felon, with a court ordered restoration to be able to have access to firearms. This possibility was confirmed by the Tennessee Attorney General in a formal opinion in 2015.
This year, however, it seems that the Legislature is rushing to pass a new bill which will have the effect to permanently prohibiting nonviolent felons from ever getting back the ability to exercise a constitutionally protected right. Again, the question is why?
Tennessee Firearms Association urges you to read the legislation as passed by the House and now Senate committees. Ask if this is just more incrementalism directed against the 2nd Amendment? Is there some compelling reason to reverse existing state law which allows nonviolent felons – who can vote, sit on juries and hold public office – to also regain the capacity to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights?
Right now TFA is just alerting you to what is happening and encouraging you to think through it and contact your legislators.
Let your voice be heard and contact your legislators on this and other legislation. You can identify your legislators on this website tool.
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