TFA’s John Harris Talks Fundraiser, FBI Handgun Permit Requests, Attack on Arms-Related Supply Chain

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed John Harris, founder of the Tennessee Firearms Association, to the newsmaker line to talk about his upcoming event, the FBI’s request for handgun permit information, and the “accelerated attack on the supply chain of firearms and ammunition” since the Trump administration ended.

Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line now our very good friend, attorney John Harris, who is the founder and president of Tennessee Firearms Association. Good morning, John.

Harris: Good morning.

Leahy: You have an event coming up this weekend. Tell us about that.

Harris: Yes, this Saturday is the TFA’s PAC, its annual fundraiser, which will be Saturday at the Farm Bureau Expo Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. And we’re excited because we’re going to have Eric Pratt, who is the senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, traveling in to be our keynote speaker.

But we’re also going to have Congressman Mark Green and Congressman John Rose and about 10 state legislators, at last count, attending the event and speaking with people and addressing the group.

Leahy: And now, what’s the website where people could go if they want to get tickets and show up?

Harris: The website is And it’s not just a speaking event. Let me clarify. It’s also a gun auction. So we’ve got speakers, we’ve got barbecue, and we’ve got a live auction with about 20 firearms involved. So what else would you want to do on a rainy Saturday?

Leahy: Exactly. What time does it start?

Harris: Registration starts at nine in the morning. We’ll serve lunch at about 11:00, and then the speakers start at about 11:30, as soon as we can get people through the buffet lines.

Leahy: So if a certain host of a radio program was looking for something to do, would you let them in? That would be yours truly.

Harris: Absolutely. Matter of fact, we’re encouraging bloggers and people like that to show up and take the opportunity to talk to the celebrities that are there, for lack of a better term, as well as just a lot of the people.

We’re going to be drawing people from across the state of Tennessee that are hardcore conservative Second Amendment advocates. And this is the biggest gathering of that type in the state each year.

Leahy: Sounds like a really great event. So this Saturday out in Lebanon at the Farm Bureau Expo Center, right?

Harris: Correct.

Leahy: I wanted to talk to you a little bit about a story that our own Aaron Gulbransen wrote, where the Tennessee Farms Association is questioning why the FBI wants access to handgun permit databases in certain states. What could possibly go wrong if the FBI is investigating information about gun owners?

Harris: Exactly. You first got a question: What jurisdiction do they have? Because the Constitution gives the federal government very limited authority and only over certain enumerated issues, and then reserves everything else to the states.

One thing that’s clearly reserved to the states that the government, the federal government, has never had authority over is the issue of who can legally possess and carry a firearm within a state.

And that’s left up to the states individually. And so states have either adopted real constitutional carry, which Tennessee has not done, or they’ve adopted some form of modified constitutional carry, which Tennessee arguably has done, or they’ve adopted permit style systems, which Tennessee clearly has done.

But those are all state issues. I mean, it’s totally up to the discretion of the state. Well, we learned in August from a sister state, our contacts over there, that the FBI was directly contacting local sheriffs in Missouri, notifying them in advance that they were planning to come in because they wanted to audit the handgun permit database records.

Because in that state, those records are maintained, at least in part, by the local sheriffs. And the attorney general in that state, unlike the one in Tennessee, has a backbone. (Leahy laughs) And he jumped up and attacked the FBI and said, not on my turf, not on my watch.

TFA contacted the Tennessee Department of Safety with an open records request, because that’s the organization in Tennessee, as opposed to the sheriffs, that maintains that database. And we sent an open records request to see if a similar type of notice to audit the records had been served on the state of Tennessee by the FBI.

And at least based upon the answer to the open records request, it appears that at least at this point, no such request from the FBI has been made to look at the Tennessee records. But it may just be a timing issue, because …

Leahy: Yes. I’m sure it’s a timing issue. Let’s get back to this. What’s going on with this out-of-control partisan hackery that you see every day from leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice, incorrectly named – it’s the Department of Injustice, it seems to me, under the big hack Merrick Garland. This seems to be a level of threat to our individual liberties and our Bill of Rights, and particularly the Second Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen. Your thoughts, John Harris?

Harris: I think that’s a monumental understatement, which is unusual for you. (Leahy laughs) 

Leahy: Zing! John! That’s the best line of the day. That’s very good, John. (Harris laughs) 

Harris: For example, in my law practice, one of the unique aspects of it is I represent gun manufacturers, gun dealers, FFA, people who have NFA registration, all of that stuff. And there are not a lot of attorneys that fight the ATF or dabble in that market.

And what I’ve seen is about, I would say, 400 to 500 percent increase in the volume of activity where the federal government – and it’s the FBI, the ETS, and even the Internal Revenue Service – is focusing efforts on choking off, I refer to it as the Second Amendment supply chain.

They’ve been unable to restrict through Congress, thanks to some Republican resistance and even, frankly, Joe Manchin, to some extent passing new laws. But ever since even the Trump administration – Trump was good for us on this issue – ever since the Trump administration, there has been this accelerated attack on the supply chain of firearms and ammunition, including things like banning the bump stop, trying to ban the AR pistols, and going after certain types of trigger designs.

We just saw a brand new regulation that went into effect this past week on what’s called PFS for personally made firearms that under the law since 1968 don’t have to have serial numbers. And now there’s a huge volume of confusion because of this new regulation.

And it’s all geared towards choking off the supply chain, putting dealers out of business, and discouraging civilians from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


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