‘Thoughts and Prayers Tax’ Bill in Tennessee; Would Bring New Gun Restrictions In The State

Bellevue, TN: A Tennessee Democratic lawmaker aims to enact gun law reforms in the state through the implementation of a new tax on firearm sales.

Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) has introduced HB 2193, a bill that proposes a 15% tax on the retail sale of firearms in Tennessee. The revenue generated will be allocated to a dedicated fund for the Tennessee Department of Education. This fund will be utilized solely for the purpose of hiring school counselors in elementary and secondary schools.

Mitchell attributes the idea to a voter from the opposing party. During a town hall meeting in Bellevue, Mitchell shared an interesting encounter. A man, who described himself as an avid hunter and a Republican with multiple guns, offered a potential solution to the gun issue in Tennessee.

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Being a member of the super minority in the Tennessee General Assembly, Mitchell acknowledged the challenges involved in advancing this type of legislation.

Tennessee Republicans have consistently opposed measures to strengthen gun regulations, despite public opinion favoring such laws. These measures include enhanced background checks, “red flag” laws, and stricter penalties for improper firearm storage.

Despite a special session of the legislature prompted by Gov. Bill Lee in response to the Covenant School shooting, no substantial changes to gun laws were achieved in the state. GOP lawmakers found themselves deadlocked, resulting in the passage of only four bills throughout the entire term.

Nevertheless, Mitchell emphasized the necessity for lawmakers to take action, despite recognizing the slim chance of any significant measures being implemented.

He highlighted the legislation introduced by fellow Democrats, such as safe storage and red flag bills by Reps. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) and Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), as potential measures to enhance the safety of Tennesseans against gun violence. If either of those bills were passed, Mitchell expressed his willingness to withdraw his new tax bill.