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Everytown, Tennessee Moms Applaud Governor Haslam for Signing Bipartisan Legislation that Alerts Law Enforcement When Dangerous People Try to Buy a Gun and Fail a Background Check

New Bill Empowers Law Enforcement to Enforce Existing Laws; Tennessee Leads the Country in Adopting This New Type of Legislation; Similar Policies Being Considered in 10 States

New Everytown Research (Available Here) Explains How Easy it is for ‘Denied and Dangerous’ People To Get Their Hands on Guns After Failing a Background Check – And What States Can Do To Enforce Existing Laws and Improve Public Safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn.
– The Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, along with state domestic violence prevention advocates, today applauded Governor Haslam for signing House Bill 1964 into law. The new law will require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to alert local officials when dangerous people – specifically, domestic abusers – illegally attempt to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer and fail a background check. The bipartisan legislation was supported by Tennessee law enforcement, passed unanimously in the House and received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.

Tennessee leads the country in adopting this new type of legislation as similar policies are being considered in 10 states. A new Everytown white paper released today (available here) explains how easy it is for denied and dangerous people to get their hands on guns – and how states can improve public safety with better enforcement of existing laws. The report calls attention to the following:

  • In 2014, the FBI and state law enforcement agencies denied more than 125,000 gun sales to prohibited people, the majority of them to convicted felons.
  • Three in 10 people who “lie-and-try” to buy guns and are denied for criminal convictions or indictment are re-arrested within the next five years.
  • In 32 states, those same people that fail a background check can seek a handgun in an unlicensed sale without one, no questions asked.

“Thanks to Governor Haslam and the legislature, now when a dangerous prohibited person tries to buy a gun but fails a background check a red flag will be raised with law enforcement which will make families across Tennessee safer from the threat of gun violence” said Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, volunteer with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Moms from across the state are thrilled that both Republicans and Democrats came together to keep Tennesseans safe. Similar legislation to stop these denied and dangerous criminals is currently under consideration in state houses across the country and we’re proud that Tennessee is now the prime example of how we can all work together to stop gun violence.”

Throughout the session, the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action called and emailed their legislators in support of the bill. Just a few weeks ago, more than fifty Moms from around the state joined for an advocacy day at the Tennessee State Capitol to meet with legislators about their support for the proposed legislation.

“We are thankful to Governor Haslam and all legislators who have supported this bill,” said Kathy Walsh, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “This new law will provide a crucial new tool that law enforcement can use to identify dangerous domestic abusers who are trying to illegally buy guns.”

The new law will serve as a significant tool to help enforce gun laws already on the books in Tennessee. Current Tennessee law prohibits a person who is subject to a final order of protection from purchasing or attempting to purchase a gun. This new law will help protect victims of domestic abuse by requiring the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to alert local officials within one day when prohibited domestic abusers attempt to purchase a firearm. This is a crucial step in protecting women and families as research has found that in an average month 51 women are shot to death by an intimate partner in the United States.

House Bill 1964 was a bipartisan initiative sponsored by Representative Karen Camper (D-Memphis) and Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). Representative Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) and Senator Lee Harris (D-Memphis) cosponsored the bill during the legislative session.