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TN bill that would require guns in vehicles to be secured does not pass legislature despite letter from city mayors

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon was one of four city leaders who signed a letter calling for state lawmakers to pass a law requiring guns in vehicles to be secure.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Four city mayors from across Tennessee sent a letter to state lawmakers asking them to pass a bill adding restrictions for gun owners who keep guns in vehicles in mid-March.

The bill, HB 1233, was introduced by Representative Caleb Hemmer (D - Nashville). It would make it a Class-C misdemeanor for someone to store a gun, whether loaded or unloaded, in a vehicle or boat while they are not in it unless it is locked in a trunk, glove box or locked container. The rules would also apply to ammunition.

The bill would also require gun owners to report if their guns are stolen or lost to a law enforcement agency within 24 hours. Failing to report a lost or stolen gun would also be a Class-C misdemeanor.

The bill was taken off notice for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and a notice of intent to recall from the Senate Judiciary Committee was filed on April 5, effectively guaranteeing it would not pass this session.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon was one of the mayors who signed the letter. The other mayors are listed below.

  • Mayor Tim Kelly of Chattanooga
  • Mayor John Cooper of Nashville
  • Mayor Lee Harris of Shelby County

"We are calling on our state lawmakers to pass legislation to prevent gun thefts from vehicles and to work with gun owners and dealers to ensure that their guns do not end up in the hands of the wrong people," the letter says.

It also says that gun thefts from vehicles are increasing across the state. It said Nashville authorities reported 121 guns stolen from vehicles so far in 2023, and more than 70% of all guns report stolen were stolen from vehicles.

They said Knoxville has seen a 36% increase in gun thefts from cars, while Nashville saw a 14% increase, Memphis saw a 23% increase and Chattanooga saw a 24% increase.

"As your partners in municipal government, we ask that our state leaders provide us with the tools necessary to combat this ever-growing crisis of guns stolen from vehicles," the letter says. "The passage of HB 1233 and SB 1029 will provide local leaders with the tools to prevent senseless violence and crime in our communities."

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