TN Gov. Signs Protections for Gun Makers and Sellers into Law

( – Gun control is almost as controversial in the U.S. as abortion, and the battle between Second Amendment enthusiasts and gun control proponents is hot in Tennessee as Republican Governor Bill Lee recently signed numerous new protections for gun owners and dealers.

Lee signed House Bill 1189 in the second week of May. The law will bar anyone from bringing certain civil lawsuits in Tennessee against gun dealers, gun makers, and private gun sellers. The bill essentially makes it illegal to try to hold a dealer or seller liable for a death by a firearm they manufactured or sold and treats the person who used the gun in the death as the criminal, not the manufacturer or seller of the gun.

This is the same, customary approach to liability that governs nearly all other products and services in the U.S. The effort to make gun manufacturers liable for deaths that occur when people use their product has no parallel to other products, such as automobiles. 

The law will go into effect on July 1st, 2023. It got final passage by the state Senate in April, just a few days after transgender shooter Audrey Hale, 28, returned to her alma mater, the Covenant School, and opened fire. Hale killed three teachers and three children, aged 9, before being killed by responding officers who found her in the school still actively shooting.

Gun control proponents, as usual, used the tragedy to push for more restrictions on gun use and gun sales, echoing the sentiment “more guns equal more deaths.” It remains true, however, that trained police with guns ended the tragedy before it got worse.

Hale described herself as a transgender activist, and local police confirmed on the day of the shooting that her self-identification appeared to have played a role in her decision to go on a shooting spree. Hale left behind a long “manifesto” which has prompted intense speculation. That manifest is before a judge since the second week of May, but it is unclear when or whether it will be released, and if it is, how much of the information will be redacted. 

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