We properly are guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States the right to keep and bear arms, and the overwhelming majority of Americans do not view that important liberty as an excuse for criminal violence.
And yet, last year in Tennessee, 219 people were killed by people wielding firearms.
In fact, Tennessee has the worst rate among all the 50 states of people victimized by assaults with firearms and the fifth worst rate of robberies, according to FBI statistics.
Only Washington, D.C., had a higher rate of gun-related violence than Tennessee.
In Tennessee in 2010, there were 4,682 robberies involving guns. There were also 8,231 aggravated assaults with firearms and a total of 13,132 gun crimes in our state, the population of which is 6.1 million. There were 214 gun crimes per 100,000 Tennesseans.
We want all of our law-abiding people to feel safe. But it is highly inadvisable to pursue that goal by abridging the gun rights of responsible citizens.
That makes it vitally important to impose firm, meaningful sentences on those who use guns while committing crimes.