Tennessee approves bill to block international treaties that limit gun rights

Tennessee approves bill against international treaties limiting gun rights

In 2013, the U.S. signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, though Congress has not ratified it. Tennessee state lawmakers passed a hedge in case that changes. (Photo: un.org)

The Tennessee Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a popular House bill prohibiting the enforcement of international laws in the state that could affect the Second Amendment.

Introduced in January by a House Democrat, the bill saw bipartisan support and, despite failure in the Civil Justice Subcommittee in February, was resurrected and passed the chamber as a whole in a 88-2 vote last month before carrying the Senate 27-0 on April 7. Rep. Barbara Ward Cooper, D-Memphis, and Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville cast the only two votes in the assembly against the measure.

“Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms,” said sponsor Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, before the House vote in March. “This bill simply prohibits any interference with that right by international treaty.”

Windle’s proposal, now headed to Governor Haslam’s desk, HB 2389, notes the landmark 2008 Heller Supreme Court case which recognized the right for individuals to keep and bear arms. As such, it moves to prohibit law enforcement officers in Tennessee from enforcing provisions of international law and treaties that limit gun rights as outlined by the Second Amendment and the state constitution.

In April 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty that aims to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons ranging from small arms to warships. The U.S. signed the treaty along with some 129 other countries but Congress has not ratified it.

Allen Youngman, executive director of the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council told Guns.com previously he didn’t think the treaty would be ratified because the U.S. is already in compliance with agreement in terms of carefully scrutinizing export license applications, a key goal.

While there was no vocal opposition to the Tennessee measure, a fiscal impact statement prepared by the legislative service downplayed the likelihood of the budding law ever being used.

“The frequency of any such future international law or treaty regulating the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories in Tennessee, not otherwise required by state or federal, is assumed to be relatively infrequent, if ever,” read the statement.