On Tuesday Feb. 19, at 4pm, the Tennessee Second Amendment Preservation Act had a committee hearing.
Many supporters came to the meeting, almost filling up the room. Some people brought signs, and most wore stickers in support SB250.
The hearing started off with Senator Mae Beavers reading the bill in front of the committee members and audience. This bill is to amend the current Firearms Freedom Act which most on the committee had signed. The Firearms Freedom Act, which composed of SB1610 and HB1796, was signed into law in 2009. The Firearms Freedom Act is different from the Second Amendment Preservation Act by mandating the state of Tennessee to retain the responsibility of intrastate commerce regarding firearms, accessories, and ammo. The Second Amendment Preservation Act would nullify all laws, act, orders from banning, restricting, and straight up infringing on the Second Amendment.
“The general assembly declares that any federal action prohibited by this chapter relating to firearms, firearms accessories or ammunition, whether made in Tennessee or not, is not authorized by the United States constitution and violates the restrictions contained therein and is hereby declared to be invalid in this state; that said federal action shall not be recognized by this state; and that said federal action is rejected by this state and shall be null and void and of no effect in this state.”
“Any federal action shall be deemed an intentional violation of state sovereignty and shall be unenforceable within the borders of Tennessee if the federal action does or attempts to: (1) Infringe on, ban, regulate, or restrict state government, local government or civilian ownership, transfer, possession or manufacture of a firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition in this state; (2) Require any state government, local government or civilian owned firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition in this state to be registered or tracked in any manner; or (3) Impose federal taxes, fees or any other charges on any state government, local government or civilian owned firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that are payable to any government entity.”
After Senator Beavers spoke, June Griffen Chairman of the Tennessee Committee for the Bill of Rights, testified that the Bill of Rights, both state and federal, are guarantees for “we the people”. June cited many sections of Tennessee’s Constitution.
Section 26 of the the Tennessee Constitution states, “That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense, but the Legislature shall have the power, by law, to regulate the wearing arms with a view to prevent crime.”
In section 16 affirms, “the declaration of rights hereto prefixed is declared to be a part of the Constitution of the State, and shall never be violated on any pretense whatever. And to guard against transgression of the high powers we have delegated, we declare that everything in the bill of rights contained, is excepted out of the general powers of the government, and shall forever remain inviolate.”
She then read the that rights are to be guaranteed to the people by the powers of the sheriff.
According to TCA 38-3-102 ‘Duties of Sheriff’, ” The Sheriff is the principal conservator of the peace in the Sheriff’s County. It is the Sheriff’s duty to suppress all affrays, riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, insurrrections or other breaches of the peace, to do which the Sheriff may summon to such Sheriff’s aid as many of the inhabitants of the County as such Sheriff thinks proper.” June also quoted State vs. Reichman 135 Tenn. 685, 188 sw 597, 1916, “The Sheriff is the chief conservator of the peace in his county. He is the Commander of the law forces of the Count. All judicial and ministerial officers of justice and all city officials are required to aid him, and the population of his county is subject to his Command in the prevention and suppression of all public offenses.” June was met with applause after her speech which was promptly stopped by the committee chairman because “clapping is not allowed”.
After the two speeches, the committee had a few questions. Senator Kelsey wanted confirmation that the sheriff’s duty was to enforce the US Constitution and State Constitutions. Senator Campfield confirmed that the sheriff was the supreme law enforcer.
Senator Kelsey was baffled by who determines constitutionality. Since the Supreme Court throughout history has claimed unconstitutional laws were in fact constitutional, was it constitutional for the state to nullify those unconstitutional laws? He obviously has not been enlightened by Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.
Senator Kelsey countered Senator Beavers response asserting that states nullifying unconstitutional acts is legitimate with the actions of President Andrew Jackson. He said Jackson didn’t believe the states were the right arbiter of constitutionality. That he believed like President Jackson, “the power of constitutionality should be left to the federal government.”
The committee continued its questioning followed by Senator Overbey, who asked for which actions are we nullifying? Present, or future? Senator Beavers responded present and future.
Senator Kelsey also wanted to know, “does this bill cover firearms that have crossed state lines?” Senator Beavers responded yes. He continued his further questioning with a misinformed interpretation of the Supremacy Clause. He believed that the Supremacy Clause over-ruled the Tenth Amendment. The Supremacy Clause states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof.” He was in disagreement of Senator Beavers of the the last part of that sentence, “in pursuance thereof.” And, therefore, he needs the attorney general to determine the constitutionality of state nullification. Senator Beavers refused to allow another week for the Attorney General to determine constitutionality of nullification. She wanted a vote now.
Senator Kelsey motioned for a delay to get the Attorney General. It was seconded by Senator Campfield. Senator Overbey also confirmed the delay due to concerns. He was concerned about the vagueness of the bill. He wasn’t sure which federal action the state of Tennessee should take action against. He was also concerned if this bill would violate the separation of powers.
Senator Finney had one concern which regarded the offense of a class b penalty to anyone who enforces any federal infringement on the right to bear arms. He wondered if this offense was too steep since about 2 crimes encompassed this offense. He also wants to hear from Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) on how this would affect them.
Senator Kelsey finished that he wanted the Sheriffs Association to also to address this bill. He then finished with a motion to delay the bill. It was affirmed with a delay by a 5-4 vote. The vote was as follows: Senator Campfield-no, Senator Green-no, Senator Gardenhire-no, Senator Stevens-yes; Senator Bell-no; Senator Kelsey-yes, Senator Overbey-yes, Senator Ford-yes, Senator Finney-yes