Tennessee Lawmaker Has Bizarre Take on Gun Thefts

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

With Republicans in full control of state government in Tennessee, any new gun control legislation is going to face long odds of being enacted into law, but Democrats and their allies in the media are mounting a full-scale effort this session to crack down on lawful gun owners who are the victim of a crime. Nashville TV station Newschannel 5 recently ran with a story breathlessly reporting that some 30,000 firearms have been stolen from vehicles in the state over the past ten years, which the station blames on Republican lawmakers who “voted to allow gun owners to keep their weapons in their cars and trucks without any penalty for those who leave them unsecured.”

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As you can imagine, Democrats were quick to point to the story as evidence that the state needs to go after gun owners who leave their firearms in their vehicle, instead of targeting the individuals who are breaking into those cars and stealing the guns left inside.

No one is coming to take your guns…. except when they “temporarily” take them under a “red flag” law. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like taking guns to me.

As objectionable as “red flag” laws are, they also have nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of thefts from vehicles. The same goes for concealed carry licenses, but to Johnson and her anti-gun allies legal gun ownership is the biggest issue of all, and must be curbed in as many ways as possible.

Look, it’s a dumb idea to leave a firearm unsecured in a vehicle, especially one that’s unlocked, but not every bad decision needs to come with criminal penalties attached. And as Johnson’s post on X makes clear, anti-gun Democrats aren’t going to be satisfied with a lost-or-stolen reporting requirement or even a storage mandate. That’s just the starting point for their gun control agenda, which also includes repealing the state’s permitless carry law, imposing an Extreme Risk Protection Order statute, and banning so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

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According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there were about 5,000 firearms reported stolen from vehicles in 2022. That’s slightly less than the number of vehicles that were stolen in just Nashville and Davidson County. Why aren’t Democrats demanding legislation penalizing the victims of auto theft, as they are with gun owners who have a firearm stolen? Because Democrats aren’t waging a war on car ownership, that’s why.

In 2021 the state legislature made it a felony to steal a firearm, but prosecutions have been few and far between in Nashville and Memphis. Some DA’s claim it’s so hard to prove the theft of a firearm that charges are almost impossible to file, so perhaps legislators need to increase the penalty for breaking into a motor vehicle, regardless of whether a firearm is taken. The onus still needs to be on the burglars and thieves, however, not the lawful gun owners who are their victims. For Johnson and many of her fellow Democrats in the state legislature, legal gun owners are not only a bigger problem than the scofflaws who would steal from them, but are easier to punish and prosecute than the thieves themselves.

 

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