NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Tennessee, you can buy and sell short-barrel shotguns and rifles—SB2628 made it legal earlier this year.
“We work in a gun shop and I am a firearms trainer,” said Blaise Lane, High Caliber Weaponry and Training director of operations. “So, I am hugely supportive of the Second Amendment and everyone’s ability to own firearms for self-defense, for sporting and any other requirement that they would have firearms for.”
High Caliber is a gun store in Nashville. Lane said there’s nothing wrong with the new law—it just doesn’t do anything. “Currently, it doesn’t change anything,” he said.
That’s because there’s already a federal law called the National Firearms Act (NFA) in place that’s allowed short-barrel guns since 1934.
In fact, Lane and his employees say the new law has probably caused more confusion than clarity.
“It’s a show bill,” he said. “The Tennessee legislature will already be prepared, should the NFA get abolished.”
The debate about guns has been prominent throughout the country the last few years. Critics of this new law say the bill’s passage is regressive despite the lack of effect.
“I believe it’s a step in the wrong direction because it’s slowly pushing the envelope and making it potentially easier to end some of the restrictions,” Silent No Longer Tennessee director, Greta McClain, said. “Which, some people call them restrictions, I call them safeguards.”
McClain, a former Metro Nashville police officer, also talked about her own personal experience with short-barrel guns.
“When I was with the police department, I was shot at three times by a man with a sawed-off shotgun. He was, at most, 15 feet away from me and missed,” she said. “So, the concern that I have, and I’m sure a lot of people have, is if somebody thinks that it’s appropriate for them to use deadly force, there’s just as much likelihood that they’re going to hit innocent bystanders as they are whomever they’re aiming at.”
McClain is referring to the notion that sawed-off shotguns are considerably less accurate.
Naturally, the Tennessee Firearms Association disagrees with McClain’s thoughts on the law.
“I think it is a step in the right direction,” director John Harris said. “It sends a message of the public policy that at least some of the legislators are holding at this point.”
But Harris did agree that the new law created uncertainty. “What it, unfortunately, has done is create some confusion in the public about whether or not a person still needs to go out and, if they acquire one, pay the federal tax and comply.”
Currently, to buy a short-barrel gun, you have to pay a $200 fee for taxes, file NFA paperwork, and send in your fingerprints for a background check.
Now, Harris and Lane both say they’ve had people tell them they can bypass those regulations with the new law in place, but that is not the case.
Harris went a step further in his criticism of gun laws in Tennessee. “Oh, they’re an absolute mess, they’re a disaster,” he said. “The laws should be simple enough that the average person, the average police officer, the average district attorney, the average judge, the average juror, the average person all agree, without having to look it up, what the law allows or prohibits.”