Challenges to Federal Gun Laws Could Find Tough Time in Key Committee

A key legislative committee has put off a bill taking aim at federal gun laws. The measure would make it a crime for officers to enforce any national gun restrictions in Tennessee, but there are constitutional questions.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet says the way she sees it, states have a choice about whether federal laws infringe on the right to bear arms.

She argued her point before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chaired just last year.

“I know many of you are lawyers, you’ve been to law school, and you believe the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of many of these laws. I don’t believe that.”

On a 5-to-4 vote, the committee delayed Beavers’ bill to wait and hear what the state Attorney General thinks of it.

Newly-appointed chairman Brian Kelsey – a lawyer from Germantown – led the resistance, citing the Supremacy Clause that makes federal laws trump state and local statutes.

“When I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Tennessee, I did not take an oath to uphold bits and pieces of it, or parts of it, but the entirety of the Constitution.”

Kelsey’s committee would also be the first stop for another bill intended to prohibit enforcement of any new firearms laws passed by Congress.

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