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Tennessee General Law Blog

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New ‘Red Flag’ Law Could Affect Gun Control

A new “red flag” law in Tennessee would allow the temporary removal of guns from at-risk individuals. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis.

The legislation would allow residents to petition Tennessee courts to temporarily remove firearms from relatives who pose a threat to themselves or other people, according to The Tennessean. If the proposed Senate Bill 1807 is approved, law enforcement, family members, intimate partners, and household members would be able to petition the court to temporarily confiscate firearms from gun owners with an immediate risk of hurting themselves or other people.

Similar laws, which are also known as the “red flag,” are being introduced nationwide in response to ever-increasing gun violence in the nation. People are using guns to assault others and commit violent crimes such as manslaughter and murder more often, as safety advocates continue to urge the government to step up efforts to curb gun violence.

Fact : In 2017, gun deaths in the U.S. reached their highest level since the 1960s, with nearly 40,000 deaths by firearm.

How Would Tennessee’s ‘Red Flag’ Law Work?

If Tennessee’s “red flag” bill becomes a law, the petitioner – who can be a family or household member or intimate partner – would sign a sworn affidavit for the emergency protection order.

If a judge granted the protection order, the person against whom the petition was filed would be prohibited from possessing and purchasing guns while the order remains active.

However, authorities do not seize the respondent’s firearms just because the petition was filed. Instead, the petitioner will have to prove that the respondent or others are at immediate risk. The petitioner would be under oath when presenting the evidence because it is a sworn affidavit. Thus, if they lie or misrepresent facts, they could face penalties under Tennessee’s criminal law.

The petition would not be considered a criminal issue, as such petitions would be heard by a civil judge. If the order is approved, the respondent will be required to surrender all firearms within 48 hours to a third party. Any violation of the order would be classified as a Class A Misdemeanor and could result in arrest.

When Would the Order Expire?

A hearing will be held to either approve the order for a specific period of time – but no longer than one year – or cancel the order. The respondent may be represented by a lawyer during the hearing. After the order expires, the respondent may again own or buy firearms.

The petitioner could further extend the order by proving their allegations that the respondent or others are still at risk. The court would be able to modify or terminate the emergency protection order while the order is in effect.

In order to terminate the emergency protection order, the judge will need evidence that the individual in question no longer poses a risk if allowed to possess or purchase firearms.

How Tennessee’s Gun Laws Changed in 2020

Beginning January 1, Tennessee residents can apply for a conceal-carry permit one of two ways. Before, the law offered a permit that required a monetary fee and an eight-hour in-person training course. In 2020, residents can obtain a new concealed carry-only handgun permit that does not require applicants to demonstrate their ability to fire a weapon, according to WREG.

The new permit to carry a concealed handgun can be obtained by Tennessee residents after online training of at least 90 minutes. However, the pre-existing handgun carry permits still remain an option.

If you worry that Tennessee’s new gun-related laws could affect you, speak with our Manchester-based lawyers at the Law Offices of Burch, Morrison, & Stewart. Call at (931) 954-1066 to talk about your situation.

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