New Tennessee Law Sets Stage to Reject International Gun Control


By Mike Maharrey

Today, a new Tennessee law setting the foundation to stop enforcement of gun control imposed by international law or treaty goes into effect.

House Bill 2389 (HB2389) was introduced by Rep. John Windle (D-Livingston) in January.  It prohibits law enforcement officers from enforcing provisions of international law and treaties that limit gun rights as specified in Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee State Constitution. It reads, in part:

On or after July 1, 2016 no personnel or property of this state, or any political subdivision of this state, shall be allocated to the implementation, regulation, or enforcement of any international law or treaty regulating the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories, if the use of personnel or property would result in the violation of another Tennessee statute, Tennessee common law, or the Constitution of Tennessee.

“This bill prohibits any interference of [the right to keep and bear arms] by international treaty,” said Windle on the House floor last month.

In February, a House subcommittee voted to kill the bill, but after heavy grassroots pressure, the subcommittee reconvened on the measure, passing it by a 3-2 vote on Mar. 16. The full House passed the bill by an 88-2 vote. And the Senate passed it unanimously, 26-0.


HB2389 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.


Now that the law is in effect, here’s how things could play out in practice. If the federal government were to participate in an international treaty or agreement that restricts any firearms allowed under Tennessee law or the state Constitution, and then a local cop pulled someone over for a traffic violation and saw that firearm in the car, the cop could simply give the guy a ticket for the traffic violation and send him on his way.

Recently-proposed measures, such as the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), are, as noted by Gun Owners of America, part of a plan “to bring back the framework for a global gun control regime.” Recently, Oxfam International renewed its push for passage of the ATT. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has long-participated in the development and support of the ATT as well.


The new law will likely require further action to be put into practical effect. A lawsuit could be necessary to determine a violation of the state Constitution, or the legislature might need to create some mechanism to determine whether a treaty or other international action was contrary to Tennessee law or the state constitution. The latter could be included in a bill next year as well.

More importantly, efforts to remove restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms from state law will be strategically essential. “If there are laws on the books that more actively protect the right to keep and bear arms in Tennessee, then any international treaty running counter to the state law would trigger a refusal to participate under the act,” said Scott Landreth of “Examples include Constitutional Carry or gun show bills that the Tennessee Firearms Association have long-supported. It’s time to get those bills passed.”

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at and like him on Facebook HERE

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16 Comments on "New Tennessee Law Sets Stage to Reject International Gun Control"

  1. Zaphod Braden | July 1, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Reply

    Find one government in the history of humanity that felt a need to document a “RIGHT” for it’s ARMED FORCES to possess ARMS.
    Oppressive Governments are ALWAYS banning the People’S RIGHTS to arms.
    The claim that the Founding Fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment to give Our ARMED FORCES a “right” to keep and carry ARMS is S-T-U-P-I-D.
    The only reason for the Second Amendment is to clearly spell-out the GOD GIVEN RIGHT of INDIVIDUALS to keep & bear ARMS.
    The only reason for the BILL(list) of RIGHTS was to codify INDIVIDUALS’ GOD GIVEN RIGHTS.
    Has there ever been a government that was not chock full of it’s “rights” up to and including declaring itself to be the Lord God Almighty?! (Rome, Egypt, Israel,etc)
    Does the 1st Amendment mean the GOVERNMENT is allowed to give speeches? Try shutting up any Politician. But THEY would LOVE to shut YOU up, hence the FIRST Amendment.
    Anyone who tells you the 2nd Amendment applies to the Army or State Militia, is telling you they think you are STUPID.
    There has NEVER been a government that felt it had to codify it’s army’s/soldier’s “RIGHT” to “Keep and BEAR ARMS” because there has NEVER been a government that refused to allow It’s own soldiers to KEEP and BEAR ARMS!
    The Second Amendment was given to the People, like all the other rights in the Bill or Rights. This was confirmed by the SCOTUS in the DC vs Heller decision, where they stated that the “People” in the Second Amendment were the same “People” that are mentioned in the First and Fourth Amendment.

  2. per sigurd hansen | July 1, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Reply

    please stop them.

  3. Here’s how this works. What they are basically stating is that no stage government personnel, funds or assets will be used to carry out international gun laws. That doesn’t eliminate the U.N. from coming in and doing the job itself. Again, this simply says the State won’t get involved.

    • Average Joe American | July 11, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Reply

      The corrupt and confused blue-helmeted UN forces could barely handle Haiti. Why should we suppose they wouldn’t get their asses kicked out of Tennessee? I live in a state which has CCW reciprocity agreements with Tennessee, as do many other states. If the UN invaded Tennessee they’d have half a million gun-toting patriots swelling citizen ranks from all corners of the lower 48 and Alaska within DAYS. (I’m about due for a ridge-running Appalachian vacation anyway, come to think of it.)

  4. cellaphaneman | July 2, 2016 at 5:14 am | Reply

    Not to mention the 10th amendment.
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  5. Passing a law has nothing to do with enforcing that law.

    • Tell that to the usurpers in the foreign occupying UN controlled current junta.

      • No, not “in the foreign”. Anything but that.
        Please change your post to English so I can delete this comment.

  6. The laws of a regressive regime like Tennessee have no effect whatsoever, so this little piece of legislation is more for show than substance.

    • Excuse me,your ignorance is showing.

      • Really? I guess there are no Federal agents in Tennessee to enforce Federal law. Sorry, I didn’t know that.

        • The Tenth Amendment’s simple
          language—“The powers not delegated to the United States by the
          Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
          States respectively, or to the people”—emphasizes that the inclusion of a
          bill of rights does not change the fundamental character of the
          national government. It remains a government of limited and enumerated
          powers, so that the first question involving an exercise of federal
          power is not whether it violates someone’s rights, but whether it
          exceeds the national government’s enumerated powers.

          • Archie1954 | July 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm |

            So why do you think this particular piece of State law has precedence over Federal law?

          • Second amendment from the immutable Bill or Rights says that the U.S. Congress cannot infringe on the people’s right to carry arms.
            According to the Constitution for the United States of America, state law and the people’s rights always trumps federal authority except for the limited authority that the people used the Constitution to convey a subset of their authority to the federal government.
            Now enforcing the Constitution for the United States of America against traitors in the federal government violating the Constitution is another matter.
            The federal, state, and local governments can enforce unConstitutional laws that they make up against us. It is not Constitutional but they constantly do it.
            The purpose of the Constitution protecting us from them died a long time ago.

          • Archie1954 | July 3, 2016 at 10:01 pm |

            But isn’t that what the Supreme Court is all about, to prevent governments from enforcing unconstitutional laws?

          • Talk to them, not me.
            All three branches of government are equally required to follow the Constitution.
            That is our corrupt Legislator branch.
            Our corrupt Judicial branch.
            And our corrupt Executive branch.
            States are above the federal government but States are also required to follow the Constitution.
            Even when the U.S. Supreme Court declared DUI checkpoint are unConstitutional and violate the 4th amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court still allowed them.
            Forced sterilization was declared legal for decades. No one ever dreamed that forced sterilization was somehow Constitutional.
            Separate but equal may sound fair but was never really Constitutional.
            Osamacare was declared a tax but didn’t match the Origination clause. No matter.
            Osamacare specifically tried to force States to setup exchanges but when many States refused, the Supreme court said to ignore what the unConstitutional law said and to continue the federal government give-away programs with my taxes.
            Once in a blue moon, the U.S. Supreme gets it right.
            Doesn’t happen often but it does happen.
            If people try to buck the system, they are dealt with. Ask Scalia. Oops, too late.

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