Tennesseans should have the right to protect their property, State Representative Jay D. Reedy (R-Erin) told The Tennessee Star in an exclusive interview.
Reedy introduced House Bill 11. Tracking information is here. Reedy said it mirrors the law in Texas.
The Tennessee Firearms Association calls HB 11 a “major change in Tennessee law.”
The unusual thing is that the bill actually appears to reflect what a lot of Tennesseans already believe is the law but is not. The new legislation reflects a heightened interest in the rights of people to protect their homes, businesses, properties and items from thieves, rioters, looters and other criminals.
Following the protests around the nation this summer, Reedy said he found it “interesting” that a Tennessean could not resort to deadly force if someone was robbing them or firebombing their car.
“It was across our nation, in different states, third- and fourth-generation businesses were being destroyed and the protesters were from another state,” he said. “Tennesseans should have the right to protect all that.”
The protesters returned home with no repercussions. Even to learn their identities with the use of masks, authorities would have to extradite them.
Your life or another person’s life must be in danger to use deadly force, Reedy said. If someone comes at you with a baseball bat and threatens you outside your home or business, using force is justified. You cannot shoot them if they turn around, of course. If they drive off with your car, you have to let them go.
The Tennessee Firearms Association adds another example of a form of protection that is not allowed.
Further, under Tennessee law, the use of “deadly force” does not require that a person actually discharge a firearm or cause injury with any other weapon. A person may be accused and convicted of using deadly force merely by “brandishing” a weapon, that is, displaying it in a threatening manner towards another.
After downtown Nashville was subjected to rioting and arson, and police were told to back off, one must ask will this be allowed to continue, Reedy said.
“To me that is not right,” he said. “(Police) are sworn to protect the public, lives and property, and suddenly they’re saying don’t do anything, just let them go.”
Reedy said he expects he will amend the bill’s language to narrow the scope and “tighten it up,” after receiving feedback from a legal group, but he was not prepared to discuss those details yet. He is waiting to hear more feedback from a district attorney in his House district who has expressed support for any bill that would deter crime.
Reedy said he does not yet have a Senate sponsor, “but it’s early.”
“Tennesseans must have the right not only to protect their lives but their property,” he said.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.