Memphis moves to defy Constitution, state law

Memphis moves to defy Constitution, state law

Earlier today we discussed the armed homeowner in Shelby County, Tennessee who was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment after shooting back at armed car thieves who fired at him, and mentioned that was just one example of the hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms shown by the powers that be in the Memphis area. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re diving into another display of the contempt for the Second Amendment and the right to armed self-defense; this one coming from the Memphis City Council.

Less than a month after separate shootings took place in broad daylight in front of Alfred’s restaurant in Downtown Memphis and in the parking lot near a Huey’s restaurant on Poplar Ave., Memphis Police responded to yet another shooting that happened at a Harbortown restaurant Saturday, May 13.

Saturday night was supposed to be peaceful for people at Tug’s Casual Grill, but instead it turned violent in a matter of moments when the shooting broke out.

One man was critically injured in the shooting, and he later died.

“I got this frantic phone call saying shots were fired,” Memphis mayoral candidate Michelle McKissack said. Her family was at Tug’s when the shooting took place.

According to Tug’s management, shots were exchanged inside the restaurant after an altercation outside.

… On May 16th, the Memphis City Council said it hopes to address incidents like this by opening discussion on a four-part 2024 voter referendum. Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren hopes this will help ban the future sale of assault weapons, and restrict the use of the ones already on the streets.

“A, to ban assault weapons, and to make sure people who already own assault weapons keep them locked in their homes, and they take them to and from their homes to shooting ranges, and they don’t carry them around on the street,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, Memphis City Council Member.

If the measure gets on the ballot and passes, it will also challenge the state law on open carry in Memphis city limits, and require a license for open and concealed carry, and create a red flag law.

“So by the time this becomes law, hopefully our state would have moved on it, and other states would have too,” said Councilman Warren.

I doubt that’s gonna happen, but unless and until Tennessee lawmakers repeal the state’s firearm preemption law, every one of these gun control proposals would be utterly unenforceable. The state law is clear and unambiguous in its language barring cities like Memphis from enacting any “regulation of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or ammunition, or combinations thereof including, but not limited to, the use, purchase, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, carrying, sale, acquisition, gift, devise, licensing, registration, storage, and transportation.”

That would cover each and every local infringement gun prohibitionists like Warren want to put in place, but its likely that he and the other anti-gun politicians on the city council view this as a vehicle to challenge the preemption law itself, as well as a tool they can use to tell constituents they’re “doing something” to address violent crime in the city. Given that these proposed ordinances fly in the face of the Second Amendment and state law, however, I’d say none of them are likely to actually take effect even if voters in the city approve them next fall.

In fact, the biggest impact that this bad idea is likely to have is on gun sales in the city and the surrounding suburbs. Nothing gooses gun sales like politicians trying to ban them, and as Second Amendment attorney Kostas Moros recently highlighted on Twitter, states that have previously enacted bans on “assault weapons” tend to report higher rates of ownership for those types of firearms than states where modern sporting rifles aren’t subject to a prohibition.

According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey, 28.9% of Tennessee residents reported owning an AR-15 or other modern sporting rifle; far lower than the 37.5% of Californians, 37.8% of New Yorkers, or the 33.8% of Massachusetts gun owners. I think Moros is correct that bans on so-called assault weapons create more consumer demand for those arms, as we recently witnessed in Illinois and Washington State, where sales surged both before bans were enacted and, in the case of Illinois, after a judge temporarily halted enforcement of the gun and magazine ban.

Memphis city council members may want to rid the city of modern sporting rifles, but by proposing this ill-conceived and unconstitutional ban on sales they’re going to cause a lot of residents to go and buy one (or more) while they can. For some it will be an act of defiance, for others expedience, but the bottom line is that by threatening to prohibit the sale of so-called assault weapons Memphis politicians are almost guaranteed to boost the number of modern sporting rifles in the hands of city residents.