Tennessee Legislators file new legislation to make it a Class E felony in Tennessee to use, possess or attempt to use or possess any “device” which has the capability to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm.
Senator Lee Harris (who has no listed state email address but who is law school professor in Memphis and has this listed email address: firstname.lastname@example.org ) and Representative Dwayne Thompson, both of Memphis, have filed SB1472/HB1461 which, if enacted, would make many Tennessean’s subject to criminal prosecution merely for owning, using or attempting to own or use any device capable of “functioning” to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm.
Now, some might think – oh yeah, “bump stocks”. I wonder if these experts in the law and public policy realized that this legislation could make it a felony to possess a belt, rubber bands or shoestrings. Just imagine the number of snowflakes who might suddenly be at risk of felony prosecution merely for owning or possessing a belt, tennis shoes, or the known dangerous item – a rubber band.
Here is the language of the bill:
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1302, is amended by adding the following new subdivision (a)(5):
(5) A semi-automatic rifle that is equipped, altered, or modified to include any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory the possession or use of which is prohibited by § 39-17-1305(a);
SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1302, is amended by deleting from subdivision (f)(2) the language “(a)(2)-(4)” and substituting instead the language “(a)(2)-(5)”.
SECTION 4. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, is amended by adding the following new section 39-17-1305:
(a) It is an offense to knowingly purchase, use, possess, or attempt to purchase, use, or possess a trigger crank, bump stock, bump-fire device, or any other part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but which does not convert the semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun.
(b) It is an offense to knowingly manufacture, sell, offer for sale, or display for sale in this state any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory the possession or use of which is prohibited by subsection (a).
(c) A violation of subsection (a) or (b) is a Class E felony.
Obviously TFA will work to defeat this legislation and any similar legislation which would convert common items to contraband. Further, TFA will oppose any legislation which might seek to render any class of constitutionally protected “arms” illegal merely because of the manner that some criminal might use them.
However, TFA wants to remind its members that this could still be a battle. The NRA’s leadership has already released a public statement relative to the bumpfire stocks, at least, where calls for “additional regulations”. The NRA said that “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” Does that mean the NRA supports a $200 NFA tax being imposed on belts, shoelaces, rubber bands or any other item merely because it “might” allow semi-automatic firearm to shoot a little faster than it otherwise would? Does the NRA want those items banned from civilian ownership if made after a certain arbitrary date? We will not know whether the NRA’s Tennessee lobbyist will support this bill or not – or, for that matter, whether the NRA lobbyist will perhaps endorse and financially reward the legislators who support this kind of legislation (as it has already done with others).
TFA anticipates that the conservatives in the Legislature who truly understand and support the rights protected by our constitutions, will quickly put an end to this legislation.