NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One potential gun restriction is already off the table for this month’s “public safety” special session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Gov. Bill Lee blocked any new punishments for people who leave their guns out unsecured.
“I think we have an epidemic of gun thefts, which we know are being used in crimes,” said state Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).
Leaders across the state can’t seem to reiterate that plea enough.
“Do you know where your firearm is at this moment? If it’s unsecured in a vehicle, do something about that right now,” Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said in a public service video in 2021.
According to police data from Thursday, Aug. 3, a total of 729 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville so far this year. In 2022, a record 1,378 guns were stolen out of vehicles.
“The problem there is these guns are getting into the hands of the younger population. They’re using these guns, they’re either selling them on the black market or going around committing more crimes, robberies, burglaries, other violent crimes, killing people,” Sgt. Catherine Poole with the Metro Nashville Police Department told News 2 in a previous interview.
Lee’s proclamation on the upcoming special session urges the legislature to consider measures encouraging the safe storage of firearms, but it bans any new penalties.
“Of the top 20 cities in the United States for gun thefts, Tennessee has four of them. Basically all of our big cities are leading the country when it comes to gun thefts, and so we have to do something on safe storage,” stated Yarbro, who sponsored a bill last legislative session that would make it illegal to keep a firearm in a vehicle or a boat unless it is locked within the trunk or glove box.
That legislation was never considered following The Covenant School shooting.
“Which I think was irresponsible then and still irresponsible now,” Yarbro said. “I fully intend to either bring safe gun legislation or work with others to do so. I’ve already been in conversations with other members this week.”
The first bill for the special session was filed by a West Tennessee Democrat. The legislation would require training for a gun permit to include lessons on how to use gun locks.
Many Republicans have said they will not pass any new gun restrictions because of concerns about the Second Amendment.
The special session is set to begin at 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.