In a push to deter criminals, the state in 2021 passed a law strengthening the penalty for stealing a gun from a misdemeanor to a Class E felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail.
The law was part of a legislative package that year that made Tennessee a permitless carry state, and it was added to appease concerns that allowing people to carry handguns without a permit could lead to more crime.
Gov. Bill Lee even included an extra $17 million in the state General Fund that fiscal year for an anticipated jump in incarceration rates.
But while the effort was meant to address crime and stiffen penalties, attorneys who spoke with The Tennessean said the new law actually makes the cases harder to prosecute.
To begin with, it’s a tough crime to prove.
Under the new penalty, defense attorneys have little bargaining room with the six month mandatory jail time and are less likely to settle a case.
As a result, most felony gun theft charges are dropped.
But wait, this next quote is just beautiful:
But the dropped charges show how a law that was meant to bring change in reality does little once it hits the court system, said David Raybin, a longtime local criminal defense lawyer.
“The dynamic has changed because now the sanction is so severe on a mandatory minimum case that’s already very hard to prove,” he said. “It’s the same philosophy that if we make the penalties harder it’s going to end the crime, and that’s absurd.”
Got it? And now we go back to the usual suspects in the same article:
Earlier this year, Rep. Caleb Hemmer, D-Nashville, introduced a bill that would have made it a misdemeanor for gun owners to improperly store guns in a car or boat. As punishment, offenders would be required to enroll in a court-approved firearm safety course — a decidedly lighter penalty in a state that largely supports gun ownership.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating because there should be penalties,” he said. “But I’m resolute and ready to push forward with some common sense solutions for this epically bad problem in Tennessee.”
Laws do not work for the criminals, so they are useless, but laws penalizing gun owners need to be passed so we can solve the problem. You have to love the way they ignore the contradiction.
And one more time: Secure you effing guns.