How An AR-15 Ended Up At The TN State Legislature This Morning

Shockingly easily, I’m afraid. Last night Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, was able to purchase this knock-off AR-15-type semiautomatic weapon — and clips of ammo — for $750 cash, no background check, no ID, no questions asked. From search to actual sale, the entire transaction took less than an hour and a half.

Today Rep. Stewart brought his new purchase into the legislature where the Civil Justice Subcommittee was going to take up his bill that would require a background check for all gun sales.


The funniest part of the whole affair, which I watched on-line, was when Subcommittee Vice Chair Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, nearly wet his pants as Rep. Stewart showed his new purchase to those in the room. He then tried to get all, “you silly Democrats don’t no nuthin’ ’bout no weaponry” on Stewart, who happens to have served in the military:

Carter: Mr. Chairman, excuse me I don’t want to interrupt, but this gun could be loaded …

Stewart: No, it could not because —

Carter: Yes sir! You obviously don’t own one, you do not have it properly safe. Do not point that gun at me! If you can’t assure me that gun cannot shoot.

Stewart: Let me give you that assurance and I did it at the beginning of the debate so that you would not have that concern. Actually, as I said, I had a state trooper inspect this weapon to make sure it was not loaded before it came in here and then, I had him secure it.

As Rep. Stewart told the subcommittee, an hour and a half after visiting, he was equipped as well as he had been when he was a U.S. soldier patroling the DMZ in Korea. So yes, I think he probably knows how to load and unload these things. Funny.

By the way, this is the kind of gun that was used in the July 2015 Chattanooga shootings. Support the troops, y’all.

Committee Chair Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, said he was “disappointed in the show,” despite him having a career in Public Relations, so you’d think he’d have an appreciation for such things. Stewart explained that the point of his “show” was to dispel the oft-repeated NRA zombie lie that every gun sale in America is preceded by a background check. As I wrote back in January, this simply isn’t true. All you need is an internet connection and enough cash and you’re good to go. Or, show up at one of our infamous gun shows and hang out in the parking lot for five minutes. Don’t even need the internet for that, and it’s all perfectly legal.

So that’s the loophole Stewart was attempting to close, and you’d think with everyone on high alert over terrorist attacks, a simple background check to buy military grade weaponry would be a no-brainer. Aaaand you would be wrong. Fresh off yesterday’s cowardly display of fealty to the gun lobby, Tennessee House Republicans today killed this simple, common-sense measure in committee, too. Someone had a sad over grandpa being forced to undergo a background check to buy a hunting rifle for his 14-year-old to go squirrel hunting with. Awwww he’s so oppressed!

Also, too, respect the culture.

And also, there are no consequences for kowtowing to the NRA in this state. At least, not yet. I applaud Tennessee’s Democrats for keeping up the fight. Supermajorities don’t last forever and the more Republicans ignore public safety in the interest of their NRA ratings, the sooner their supermajority will end. The day will come when they will no longer be able to claim that all we need to do to protect ourselves from terror attacks and gun violence is to arm every civilian. That patently stupid and lame excuse to disregard public safety is not going to fly much longer.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Republican Party, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

29 responses to “How An AR-15 Ended Up At The TN State Legislature This Morning

  1. Noeleen Cleary

    Tell us, what’s the law on civilians bringing guns to the legislature?

    How do they plan on enforcing this law among the criminal element? The fact is, nothing in this bill would prevent criminals from obtaining guns.

    This is nothing but a pathetic attempt to enact government control over private property sales. Address the criminal element and stop targeting law-abiding gun owners.

    • Not allowed, actually. The Tennessee Legislature is just about the only gun-free zone in the state, and they recently voted to keep it that way.

      • Noeleen Cleary

        What charges is Mike Stewart facing for breaking the law and why hasn’t he been arrested for doing so?

      • Because a TN State Trooper brought the gun into the legislature, zero. Nice try, though!

      • Noeleen Cleary

        So, he circumvented the law to put on a show about a lawful purchase. Got it.

        His bill was is what was a ‘nice try’. As I said, nothing in it prevents criminals from obtaining guns or explains how it would be enforced in the criminal community.

        Again, stop targeting law-abiding citizens. Address the criminal element.

  2. Noeleen Cleary

    Tell us, what is the law regarding civilians taking guns into the legislature?

    How will this bill be enforced on the criminals? In fact, nothing in this bill prevents criminals from obtaining guns.

    This is nothing but an attempt to enact government control over private party sales. Stop targeting law abiding citizens and address the criminal element.

    • Yes, we hear this all the time from you gun idiots. “Nothing we can do …” blah blah. When in fact, states which have enacted universal background checks actually have shown a marked decrease in gun crime. So, something seems to be working. I guess we know why you guys are too afraid to try it, though. Would prove your zombie lies have been wrong all this time!

      • Noeleen Cleary

        You hear it because it’s a fact. Do facts scare you that much? Perhaps seeking the help of a competent mental help professional for that and your hoplophobia, instead of trying to foist it on others would serve you better.

        It’s clear you’re unable to have a civilized conversation this afternoon without resorting to grade school commentary.

        Get back to me when you can address what’s missing from that bill, OK?

        Have a good day.

    • Democommie


      I see that Southern Beale has a “Live One”! I suspect that the Type2A is brain dead, but still has a pulse and respiration–IOW, a Trumpbagger.

  3. I like that “criminal community.” It suggest a peaceful coexistence between those who live inside and outside of the law. Good for you! From time to time, I wish that I could hook up with my criminal community locally, but I guess my connections just aren’t “all that!” anymore.

    I don’t know how many times I have heard that argument that basically ends up, “Only criminals will have guns.” I appreciate that there is a healthy black market for stolen and illegally obtained weapons. But the fact remains that almost every one of these guns was legally purchased in the U.S. before it “found its way,” into the underground. For most people of age, or with a clean record, it is simply easier to go through legal channels. How you going to find a gangster any time you just might need one?

    Certainly a terrorist with little or no plans for a happy future will not care one way or the other if a gun they use to commit an act of terror is traceable.

    • Noeleen Cleary

      “But the fact remains that almost every one of these guns was legally purchased…:

      We already have background checks for the initial purchase of a gun. We also have waiting periods. Further infringing on law-abiding gun owners is NOT going to put a damper on criminals obtaining guns. They don’t get theirs legally.

      Why is it you people never want to enact harsher penalties for criminals who steal guns during, say, home invasions? Enact harsher laws for crimes involving guns. Start prosecuting straw buyers. Taking the lazy way out won’t even put a dent in your criminal problem.

      • We already have background checks for the initial purchase of a gun.


        Take it somewhere else, asshole. You can’t even be bothered to read the post, I have no time for you.

      • Jim in Memphis

        SB – how does a freshly made gun from a manufacturer get legally sold without going through a federally licensed gun dealer? That would be the initial purchase of a gun and in all cases this requires an NICS background check to legally take place. Now if someone purchases that gun and then as a private individual goes out and sells that gun to another private individual neither of which are licensed gun dealers then that purchase does not require a background check. Now how would the government enforce such a check for individuals if that became the law? If the person buying the gun is already restricted from legally buying a gun, then a law is already being broken in this transaction, and if the laws worked these people would already be caught right?

      • Ah, I get what you’re saying.. “initial purchase.” Which is what Flying Jim Junior pointed out. Every gun used in a crime started out as a legal gun.

        So it seems to make sense that after the initial purchase, we should have background checks for secondary sales, sales between individuals. Like we do with cars. Not a big deal, and as Stewart pointed out, we all carry a computer in our pockets nowadays. Shouldn’t be a big deal for the TBI to set up some kind of portal where these things can be checked.

        The problem with the “all rights, no responsibilities” crowd is that every attempt to legislate some kind enforcement mechanism or penalty — MaKayla’s Law is a good example — is immediately shot down. There are a lot of places along the way where we could close up loopholes but the gun lobby won’t let us. They say “this won’t have prevented anything” or “we don’t need any new laws, just enforce the ones we have,” etc. You know, the NRA talking points we’ve all heard a million times. In the case of MaKayla’s law, and that Tennessee couple whose kid took a gun from mom’s purse and killed a sibling while she was in the Verizon store: if someone saw a child unattended in a car, and saw there was a gun, police could have been called. Or we have that law allowing you to break into a vehicle to save a child or pet in danger. That life could have been saved.

        The bottom line is, every state which has loosened background check laws (like Missouri) or tightened them (like Connecticut) has found that background checks work. That’s indisputable. Will it solve EVERY gun problem? No. But no one law will solve every problem.

        The fact that Republicans refuse even to take one small step shows they are liars and hypocrites.

      • Jim in Memphis

        I don’t remember ever going through a background check to purchase a car either new or from an individual. Now we do have car registration if you wish to operate your car on public roads. Is that what you want – a gun registration? i can guarantee you will never get gun owners to agree to that. I would be ok with a free online NICS check system that anyone would be allowed to use. I think something along those lines was proposed by a Republican Senator not too long ago but it never got the support of the gun control crowd. I think they wanted more records to be kept which is not the point of background checks.

      • Jason

        Wrong. There is no waiting period in Tennessee.

  4. OH and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE that pants-wetter Carter completely made our case when he hysterically cried out, “You obviously don’t own one, you do not have it properly safe!” Um, yeah that’s the point… he DOES own one, he owns THAT one, he just bought it, no questions asked. And as it happens, Mike Stewart DOES know how to use one, because he’s a U.S. Army veteran. But any asshole who doesn’t know what they’re doing can buy one of these online. And if you’re gonna get scared when you see one at YOUR workplace, Rep. Carter, imagine how the rest of us feel when we see the Radnor Lake Rambo strutting around town!


    • Jim in Memphis

      I do agree that it was dumb to complain about the gun being there. He should have asked if they could go to the range together after the session and test it out.

    • Big Picture Pathologist

      (I’m a real person, not a spam bot! Really!)

      This was a great read, SC — Thank you very much for posting it.

  5. greennotGreen

    Guns don’t make us safe. More guns do not make us safer.

  6. Noeleen,

    I think just about every state has laws that mandate prison time for any crime committed with a gun.

  7. You should ask Mikeb302000 to redirect all of his traffic over here, since you have taken up the mantle. Mike is in indefinite hiatus. It was a very interesting place where reasonable gun nuts (and some not so yielding,) enjoyed coming. We often found common ground. I know that it made me smarter about gun control issues. As with your blog, I am the oldest commenter. Most of the traffic is long since gone. With Hillary as #44, it only makes sense to engage gun owners.

    I certainly miss talking to ssgmarkcr.

  8. Democommie

    I see that Jimbo(B) has reverted to type. What a sad fucking excuse for a brain.

  9. Prup (aka Jim Benton)

    If you missed it at JJ’s, there is now a petition up to force Quicken Loan Arena to allow guns inside it during the Republican Convention. Ohio is already an Open Carry state, but the poor dear snacilbupeR are afraid that if they can’t take their guns to the arena, they’ll be forced to walk naked unarmed through one of the most dangerous cities in America.

    Admittedly, it is hard to tell if this is real or a ‘wizard-level’ troll, but it is worth checking out. Sadly, it could be real, only one line may be a troll tipoff.

    • I saw something on Gawker about it. It’s trolling but it’s beautiful trolling. By the same token, I don’t see why the legislature should be the only “gun-free zone” in the state of Tennessee. Make these assholes live under the same threat as the rest of us.

  10. Pingback: Yes, My Point Exactly | Southern Beale