Gun-Rights Law in Tennessee Says International Agreements Can’t Impact State-Level Rights


A new gun rights law has been passed in Tennessee, and it did not take much to get it done. The bill flew through the Senate and the House, as just two people did not vote in favor of it. After that, Republican Governor Bill Haslam simply signed the bill into law, and it is now on the books.

Essentially, the new law says that international agreements, arrangements and treaties cannot be used as justification for changing gun ownership rights in Tennessee. If the international agreement would break laws at the state level or violate the U.S. Constitution, this law makes sure that it wouldn’t impact individual rights and guns that are the property of state residents. It applies to the ownership of firearms, the use of those firearms, and their possession. Beyond that, it also applies to accessories that go along with the firearms, ammunition, and the like.

The Big Picture

Essentially, this appears to be a move by Tennessee to make sure that the rights of those in the state aren’t infringed upon by any future arrangements, not by anything that is currently being done. If the United States was to sign a treaty with other world powers, for example, and part of the treaty said that U.S. citizens’ gun rights had to be restricted, Tennessee would not recognize that part of the treaty as legally binding. Lawmakers at the state level appear concerned about future federal regulations and want to make sure they firmly declare that they’re not going to let those regulations get in the way of state-level laws just because the federal government agreed to them.

At this time, though, it appears to be a preemptive measure, as it’s not a counter to any current federal legislation. Experts have said that it’s simply another use of the anti-commandeering doctrine, which has been used before to keep the federal government out of state affairs. The timing is intriguing, though, as the country draws closer to another presidential election.

Know Your Rights

In many cases, state laws and federal laws line up fairly well, but this law shows how this is not always the case. As such, it’s important to know your rights at both levels, especially when two laws do not agree.


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