The Tennessee legislature considered and approved several bills this year to reduce restrictions on firearms, including one bill that its sponsors labeled the "Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act." It passed overwhelmingly -- 87-1 in the House and 22-7 in the Senate -- despite warnings by some lawmakers that it could subject Tennessee citizens to federal prosecution and imprisonment.
"This bill simply asserts that if a firearms and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion, so long as it remains in the state and outside of interstate commerce," Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill's sponsor, said on the Senate floor when it passed there in June.
The bill was a two-fer for conservatives in the legislature: a gun bill and a state sovereignty bill rolled into one.
"An effort by the federal government to regulate intrastate commerce under the guise of powers implied by the interstate commerce clause could only result in encroachment of the state's power to regulate commerce within its borders," said Beavers.
But ATF Asst. Director Carson W. Carroll, head of the agency's enforcement programs and services, sent an "Open Letter to all Tennessee Firearms Licensees" a month later that explained the agency's position on the law.
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