Legislators display bipartisanship on tax break for gun safes

Press release from Senate Republican Caucus

NASHVILLE – State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) and Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris (D-Memphis) today announced bipartisan legislation that would make it cheaper for gun owners to safely store their firearms.  Senate Bill 2476 would exempt the purchase of gun safes from the state’s sales tax.  

The announcement was made at an afternoon press conference on Capitol Hill.  Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) and Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) also attended.

“This is common-sense legislation that will make gun safes more affordable and accessible for gun owners,” said Senator Roberts.  “Further it will create a safer environment for children and hopefully prevent the heartbreaking tragedies that occur from time to time.  Finally we believe this legislation will prevent thefts.”

“In 2017, Memphis led the entire nation in negligent storage shootings,” said Leader Harris.  “Any increase in the number of gun safety devices sold could lead to fewer accidental shootings and gun thefts. We believe that exempting them from the sales tax is a step forward in that effort.”

“Firearm ownership carries with it a responsibility of safeguarding the welfare of others and yourself when handling them,” said Kyle.  “The improper storage of a firearm at home could have tragic consequences such as potentially causing the injury or death of a child who discovers the firearm and plays with it.”

Gun safes are currently exempt from sales tax in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington.

The bill is sponsored by Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland) in the House of Representatives.

Further from WPLN:

The National Rifle Association might also back the legislation.

“Now, we all agree — and when I say all, I mean Republican, Democrat, gun opponents, gun proponents — we all agree that it’s the responsibility of the gun owner to have safe gun storage,” said state Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield.

…Roberts says the idea stemmed from a proposal that failed last year. That bill would have allowed prosecutors to charge gun owners with felony reckless endangerment when their weapons are used by children under 13 to kill or injury themselves or another child.

Memphis Sen. Sara Kyle, that measure’s sponsor, is one of the Democrats now backing Kerry’s plan.

But this may be a rare moment of agreement. More than a dozen firearm proposals are pending in the state legislature, and recent history shows they’re going to be divisive.

Those proposals range from a measure that would make it easier for shooting victims to sue gun dealers to one allowing guns in the non-secure areas of airports, if the owner has a carry permit.

Legislative leaders plan to begin taking up those proposals next week.

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