Tennessee Lawmaker Files Bill To Allow Deadly Force Against Thieves

Tennessee is the latest state aiming to allow the use of deadly force against suspects in property crimes. As the law currently stands, it would be a felony to shoot someone who stole from you if there was no imminent threat or fear for your life. To address this, State Rep. Jay Reedy (R-74) filed a bill (H.B. 11) that would allow a person to protect their property through the use of deadly force. The move has seen mixed reactions.

"I think the last year has raised a lot of questions in Tennessee about whether you can use force or deadly force," said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

Over the summer, demonstrations across the country ended with vandalized storefronts and looting in some cases. In Nashville, the Davidson County Courthouse and surrounding businesses were damaged and even set on fire during some demonstrations. Harris said people are "tired" of looting and the bill would give people "the right to defend" their property.

Not everyone is on board with the idea. Legal analyst Nick Leonardo takes issue with the way the bill is written, saying it could allow the victim of a property crime, such as theft, to shoot the suspect as they run from the scene, when there is no current threat of danger.

"To be able to just shoot someone because you thought they were taking your personal property is not where America is or we've been in the last hundred years," said Leonardo.

For his part, Reedy understands the bill as it is currently written is vague and will likely undergo changes for clarity. The bill is filed for consideration, and if it passes would take effect in July 2021.

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