Domestic violence advocates, victims ‘terrified’ by Tennessee gun dispossession bill

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Gun owners convicted of domestic violence lose their gun rights, under both state and federal law. Tennessee lawmakers want to eliminate a form that keeps offenders accountable.

“Victims are terrified and terrorized when an offender has a firearm,” said Becky Bullard, Senior Director of Programs for the Metro Nashville-Davidson County Office of Family Safety. “These are not responsible gun owners. These are convicted, domestic criminals.”

Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill two years ago requiring convicted domestic abusers fill out a dispossession form, which includes the model and the serial number of the guns they’re dispossessing or giving up.

The form is similar to the one Travis Reinking used when he was required to give up his guns in Illinois.

State Representative Andrew Farmer sponsored the original bill in 2017. But this year, he added an amendment to do away with the dispossession form. 

While Rep. Farmer denied our requests for an on-camera interview, he said over the phone that people who believe lives are at risk without this form are “misinformed” and “wrong.”

One of those people who believe lives are at risk is Diane Lance, the Head of the Office of Family Safety. Lance has worked to help victims of domestic violence for over 20 years.

“It is the only assurance we have that someone has done what they’re supposed to do – that a domestic violence offender has dispossessed of their firearm,” Lance told News 2.

Rep. Farmer said he only wanted a waiver reminding people that they’ll lose their Second Amendment right after pleading guilty to domestic violence; not a dispossession form.

“We don’t want people pleading guilty to domestic assault not knowing they’re about to lose their Second Amendment right,” Farmer said. “The form goes way beyond the spirit of the law, way beyond what I told the members of this Tennessee General Assembly what that bill did.”

Without the form, the Family Safety Center in Nashville fears for the public, police officers who respond to domestic violence situations and for victims.

“Removing this form will cause extreme risk to families and to our entire public,” said Becky Bullard, Senior Director of Programs for the Metro Nashville-Davidson County Office of Family Safety. “When Tennessee lawmakers remove laws that create accountability for domestic violence offenders, the entire public’s safety is at risk.”

Thirteen people murdered in Nashville last year were victims of domestic violence. Ten of the perpetrators used firearms.

One of those victims was 42-year-old Shalinda Gordon. Gordon was allegedly shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Jermaine Bailey. 

Bailey was not supposed to have a weapon because he had an active Order of Protection filed against him. It is still unclear how Bailey obtained the weapon.

Rep. Farmer’s bill and the amendment have passed the State House already. It is next scheduled to go before the Senate.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need immediate help in Nashville, please call 615-880-1100.

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