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Senate Advances Constitutional Amendments Protecting Right To Bear Arms in Tennessee

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, and parts of Marshall, Maury and Williamson counties.

The Tennessee Senate is proceeding with proposals to amend the Tennessee Constitution to strengthen Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights.

Senate Joint Resolution 904 advanced to protect citizens’ rights to bear arms in the Tennessee Constitution and limit the legislature’s ability to pass restrictive gun laws.

The measure proposes to replace the constitutional provision that authorizes the legislature to “regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime” and instead state that “citizens have a right to keep, bear and wear arms.”

House Joint Resolution 131 will establish that in Tennessee, only Tennessee’s gun laws can apply in court.  This would ensure other states cannot enforce their gun laws in Tennessee. 

In 2023, the General Assembly passed a new law providing civil liability protection to firearm and ammunition manufacturers by preventing them from being held liable for illegal acts by criminals using their products.

HJR 131 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed the House of Representatives last year.

It advances to the Senate floor for its first passage by the General Assembly.

In Tennessee, a proposed constitutional amendment must first be read aloud to the legislature three times in three separate sessions before being voted on.

Then, it must pass the General Assembly twice. The first time it must pass with a simple majority voting in favor. The second time it must pass the next General Assembly by a two-thirds majority.  Finally, the amendment is placed on the ballot.

To be successful, the proposed amendment must receive more yes votes than no votes, and the number of yes votes must be a majority of total votes in the gubernatorial election.

Senate Passes Firearm Safety Education In Public Schools

The Senate passed legislation to expand firearm safety education in Tennessee public schools.

Senate Bill 2923, would provide students with age and grade-appropriate instruction on firearm safety as part of the safety training in public schools.

The curriculum would include safe storage information, how to identify a firearm, safety risks associated with them and to notify an adult if a firearm is found.

The Department of Education and Department of Safety, in consultation with the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, would determine the earliest appropriate grade for students to begin receiving education related to firearm safety. The instruction would continue through the 12th grade.

The legislation would prohibit the use of live firearms and ammunition as part of the curriculum. Instruction would also be required to remain neutral on political and gun-related issues.

Additional Protections Against Divisive Concepts Advances

A bill to strengthen protections for free expression at public universities in Tennessee passed the Senate floor.

"Senate Bill 2501, which I sponsored, would require public colleges and universities to investigate alleged violations of the state’s divisive concepts law and report the findings promptly," according to Hensley.

Results of each investigation must be reported to the Comptroller’s office within 10 days of completion, according to the legislation.

Status updates for ongoing investigations must be submitted every 30 days. State lawmakers must also be notified if an institution receives more than 10 reports during a single academic year.

The General Assembly approved the Tennessee Higher Education Freedom of Expression and Transparency Act last year, which allows any student or employee of a public university to file a report of an alleged violation of the state’s divisive concepts law.

Divisive concepts are those that exacerbate and inflame divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin and other criteria in ways that are contrary to the unity of the United States of America and the well-being of Tennessee and its citizens.

Judiciary Committee Passes Legislation To Prevent Terrorist Organizations From Meeting In Taxpayer Funded Spaces

Senate Bill 2610 will prevent taxpayer funded forums from allowing spaces for terrorist organizations to meet.

The legislation creates a Class E felony offense, punishable by a fine of up to $3,000, for an entity receiving public funds to provide meeting spaces or other forums, including electronic and print platforms used to solicit support for terrorist organizations.

Under Tennessee law, terrorist organizations include any entity designated by the United States Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization or by the United States Department of the Treasury as a specially designated national.

Sen Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN., 37243, or call 615-741-3100, or call toll free 1-800-449-8366 extension 13100, or fax 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, Tenn., 38462, or call 931-796-2018. or his cell phone at 931-212-8823, or email sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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