• New Tennessee bill would penalize gun owners for leaving unlocked weapons inside vehicles, boats

    By: Greg Coy

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis lawmakers and police are pushing for legislation that aims to cut down on the number of guns stolen out of cars.

    Four Memphis-area lawmakers introduced a bill that would charge gun owners with a misdemeanor if they are caught leaving the weapon or ammunition unlocked in their car or boat.

    Police Director Mike Rallings said action is needed because guns stolen out of vehicles are helping to fuel crime in Memphis.

    However, some gun owners are not in favor of that kind of penalty.

    “If someone goes in and gets it, how am I responsible?” said one gun owner.

    Two bills currently making their way through state legislature address this issue. 

    One requires the owner to store the weapon and ammo in a locked trunk, glove box or interior of vehicle or boat. 


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    Another proposal specifically mentions using a locked cabinet, safe, vault, or a gun lock.

    Both will punish gun owners with a misdemeanor that can carry a fine up to $2,500 in extreme cases.

    Rallings said when state law makers changed the law to allow gun owners to keep weapons in their vehicles in 2016, it caused unintended consequences. 

    In 2018, MPD reported nearly 1,300 stolen guns – most of them from inside cars.

    In January 2019, Rallings told FOX13 he was ready for the political fight to get the law changed. 

    "I think it is not asking too much for a citizen not to let the guns fall into the hands of children and not let the gun fall into the hands of would-be criminals,” Rallings said in January.

    The proposed bills have been introduced by Shelby County Democrats and one Republican in the House: Mark White. Both bills are in the early stages.

    The Tenn. General Assembly website has not yet posted any dates for hearings. 

    One gun owner said the bill should include some kind of incentive.

    “Why don’t they assist us with the box? I mean, accommodate that,” said Anthony Segrest, a gun owner.

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