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Are further domestic violence-related firearm restrictions on the way?

It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that Tennessee has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to the possession or purchase of firearms by those individuals convicted of domestic violence charges.

However, recent reports indicate that despite this relatively harsh stance, the state still saw over 250 fatalities involving firearms and domestic violence between 2006 and 2014. Indeed, the matter has sparked a dialogue as to whether more perhaps need to be done to strengthen the existing body of law.

What do the current laws in Tennessee have to say concerning firearms and domestic violence?

Under state law, those convicted of either misdemeanor or felony domestic violence are prohibited from possessing any firearms, while anyone named as the subject of a protective order is required to surrender their firearms for the duration of the order.

Furthermore, the sale of firearms to those convicted of stalking is prohibited.

Are there any areas that critics argue are in need of improvement?

Critics point to what they call two major oversights in the state’s laws relating to firearms and domestic violence.

First, they point out that even though people are required to surrender their firearms in the above-described scenarios, there is no mechanism for ensuring that all weapons have been turned over outside of a having them sign an affidavit attesting to this.

Second, they point out that state law does not mandate a background check for firearms purchases made outside of registered gun stores.

Has any legislation been proposed to address these issues?

Sen. Jan Bowling (R-Tullahoma) and Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) have proposed legislation that, if passed, would mandate that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation alert the local courts within 24 hours if anyone named as the subject of a protective order attempts to buy a firearm.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds during the current legislative session.

As demonstrated by the foregoing, a conviction for domestic violence has very serious consequences. As such, those facing charges should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible. 

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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