Tennessee has the highest rate of gun purchase denials in the nation, according to a February report by the U.S. Department of Justice that is the focus of a Tennessean story. In 2010, Tennessee rejected about 4.3 percent of gun buyers’ purchases based on state criminal background checks, according to the report — more than twice the national average of about 1.5 percent.
A majority of those who appeal their cases win, allowing them to eventually get a gun. Just like Armentrout did.
It’s a system that annoys both buyers and sellers and could become an even bigger headache if new federal efforts to require background checks for all gun sales are successful.
“I can’t even imagine how they’re even going to keep up with the processing,” Armentrout said. “They can barely keep up now.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which conducts a $10 background check on all gun purchases from gun stores, acknowledges it has a high denial rate.
Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the agency, said that its criminal background system, called the TBI Instant Check System, or TICS, is great for recording arrests but doesn’t always get updated as to the outcome of those cases.
“Missing dispositions has been an issue with criminal records; however, it has vastly improved over the last 10 years,” Helm said. “When an appeal is filed on a denied transaction, TICS staff diligently tracks down each record from clerks’ offices across the state to locate any missing information, which also updates the criminal history system.”
The Senate Judiciary killed Thursday a proposal to add a $2 fine on all convictions involving a crime committed with a gun, then use the resulting funds to finance gun “buy-back” programs.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, sponsor of the bill (SB1092) was peppered with critical questions by Republican senators.
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he was concerned guns destroyed after a buy-back program could have been used in a crime and the possibility of ballistic evidence to solve the crime would be lost. Kyle said that is possible, but the gun was evidence that would not be available without a buy-back program. He also said buy-back programs keep ballistic evidence and serial numbers of destroyed weapons.
Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, questioned charging the $2 fee statewide and earmarking for a purpose that may be used only in limited areas. Memphis has had gun buy-back programs recently.
And Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said the proposal raise the “question of whether guns really are a problem with public safety. I tend to think they are not.”
The bill got only three yes votes while six senators voted no.
Legislation declaring that new federal laws and executive orders on firearms are invalid in Tennessee has been killed in a House subcommittee.
The bill (HB42) by Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, also would have made attempts at enforcement of federal gun laws and executive orders a misdemeanor crime within the state. It would have applied to measures taking effect after Jan. 1, 2013, thus covering executive orders on gun regulations issued recently by President Barack Obama and any gun laws enacted by Congress this year.
“I understand that we’re pushing the envelope a little bit here,” Carr told the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. “But it’s our intent to do this in some respects.”
He told the panel that “we are seeing a tyranny coming from Washington” and the bill is “seeking to assert the sovereignty of this state as defined in the Second Amendment.”
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, told Carr he disagreed with the bill as “throwing a wrench in these 200-year-old gears” at the federal level. But otherwise there was little debate or discussion before the subcommittee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Jim Coley of Memphis, called for a vote.
The bill was killed on voice vote. Only two members of the eight-member panel — Republican Reps. Mike Carter of Ooltewah and Jon Lundberg of Bristol — asked that they be recorded as favoring the bill.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The main House sponsor of a bill seeking to guarantee handgun permit holders the right to store firearms in their vehicles says he misspoke when he suggested that he routinely breaks the law.
Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby told WPLN-FM (http://bit.ly/XEMKhi) that while he’s never obtained a state-issued permit, he’s “carried a gun all (his) life.”
“One day I’ll probably get caught if I don’t get a permit, and I’ll get in trouble,” he told the public radio station.
Faison told The Associated Press on Monday that what he meant to say was that he transports a gun inside his car, which does not require a permit as long as ammunition is stored separately from the firearm.
“What I was saying is routinely I have a gun in my car, and that’s not illegal in Tennessee,” he said in a phone interview. “It just came out wrong. I have a gun in my car — we weren’t talking about me carrying a gun.”
Faison and Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville are the main sponsors of the bill to prohibit businesses from banning people with handgun carry permits from storing weapons in cars parked on company lots.
The proposal is opposed by the business community on the ground that it interferes with their property rights. The Senate version is scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Curry Todd pleaded guilty Friday to drunken driving and gun charges and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and the loss of his firearm for a year.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in October 2011 in Nashville after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed between the driver’s seat and center console.
Todd, who is best known for sponsoring a law that allows people with handgun carry permits to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, told reporters after the court hearing that he has no plans to resign.
“I’ve always found that we’re molded and shaped by experiences in life, both good and bad,” Todd said. “And it’s my intention to use this experience over the last 15 months to become a more knowledgeable and effective representative of the people of this state.”
State Rep. Joe Carr has proposed a bill that could lead to federal agents being charged with committing a crime if they enforce new federal gun laws in Tennessee. (Previous post HERE.)
He was asked about this in Memphis Thursday, WHBQ-TV reports: “I think there are certain things that are states rights,” the governor said. “I don’t think that, the question earlier was that can we arrest federal agents who come to enforce the law, I personally am not sure we have the power to do that. You know, in terms of what laws get settled on a federal law and which get settled on a state law basis, I will be honest with you I don’t know how that will work out yet.”
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Republican state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro called a press conference Wednesday to announce he will pursue legislation to make it a crime in Tennessee for federal agents to enforce any effort to ban firearms or ammunition.
Carr said the measure would also require the state’s attorney general to defend any Tennessean prosecuted for violating the potential federal gun violations.
“We’re tired of political antics, cheap props of using children as bait to gin up emotional attachment for an issue that quite honestly doesn’t solve the problem,” Carr said.
(Gov. Bill Haslam’s office had not yet seen the legislation and had no immediate comment, a spokesman said.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester condemned the measure as “self-serving” for Carr, who is exploring a challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais next year.
“In Tennessee, we are facing real problems with gun violence, poverty and persistent joblessness,” he said. “We don’t need Carr’s extreme sideshow.”
Concerned about the prospect of new federal gun restrictions, perhaps by presidential executive order, two East Tennessee legislators have filed a bill that would prohibit the use of any personnel or funds from Tennessee’s state or local governments to enforce any such moves.
“No public funds of this state or any political subdivision of this state shall be allocated to the implementation, regulation or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation that becomes effective on or after January 1, 2013, that adversely affects a United States citizen’s
ability to lawfully possess or carry firearms in this state,” declares HB10/SB40.
A separate sentence of the proposed law says “no personnel or property of this state or any political subdivision” can be used for such purposes unless federal funding is provided to cover the costs.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro signed on as first co-sponsor in the Senate.
Faison said the measure is designed as an assertion of state rights in dealing with the federal government and is patterned after a bill he successfully sponsored last year that forbids state or local funds being used to support a proposed federal regulation putting new restrictions on juveniles working on farms. The child labor bill passed 70-24 in the House, 28-0 in the Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam.
“The founding fathers envisioned the states as the fathers and the federal government as the child,” said Faison in an interview.
“The child has become a brat,” he said. “States need to stand up and take back that power that was derived from the states.”
Faison noted that Vice President Joe Biden is leading an effort to draft new federal gun control legislation, inspired by the murder of 26 people in Connecticut. It is particularly alarming, Faison said, that Biden has raised the possibility of imposing new restrictions on guns through a presidential executive order.
Only about 4 percent of people who try to buy a gun in Tennessee are snagged by background checks, reports The Commercial Appeal – while giving an example of a woman who tried to buy a pistol and wound up being arrested on four outstanding warrants. Of those applicants who fail the initial background check, 30 percent clear up the problems during an appeal. Easy access to guns is being addressed at the state and national level now in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed. In that case, Adam Lanza stole his mother’s .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and killed her before the rampage.
Last year, 18,023 would-be gun owners failed a background check in Tennessee. Of those who failed, 9,937 appealed the decision and less than half — or 4,581 — still failed a second check.
TICS state records show 449,479 Tennesseans were ultimately approved to buy 509,983 firearms from licensed dealers last year. The sales jumped drastically in December, when 80,169 buyers were approved to buy 88,289 firearms. The numbers don’t reflect the untold thousands of private sales.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — It was likely a record weekend for gun sales in Tennessee.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in an email that the agency performed 9,772 background checks over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s 500 more than the second biggest weekend on record — Black Friday and the two days that followed in November.
Background checks do not indicate how many guns were actually sold because buyers can purchase more than one.
The sales spike came after President Barack Obama called for stricter gun control following the horrific elementary school shooting in Connecticut on Friday.
John Harris, executive director of the gun rights advocacy group the Tennessee Firearms Association, said many people he knows are purchasing guns and ammunition.
“The fear is that the government is going to disregard the Constitution and try to ban weapons we’ve got a right to own under the Constitution,” Harris said. “…The thinking is that since we don’t know what’s going to happen, we need to go out and stock up.”
At the Goodlettsville Gun Shop, outside of Nashville, sales continued to be brisk on Wednesday.
Owner Phillip Arrington said in a phone interview that the store was packed and he had five check-out lines going.
“I’m so busy I don’t have time to talk,” he said.