- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The same year Tennessee’s pro-gun Legislature made it legal for some to be armed in bars, lawmakers also took a quieter step toward keeping guns away from domestic abusers

The 2009 law requires people who have had orders of protection filed against them to turn their guns over to someone else within 48 hours.

“We have a state with a high number of domestic violence shootings, so this was an appropriate step for us,” said Republican Rep. Beth Harwell, who sponsored the bill with then-state Sen. Diane Black. “I’ve had no complaints and a lot of thanks for passing the legislation.

Harwell, of Nashville, has since been become speaker of the state House, while Black, of Gallatin, has been elected to Congress. Both Republicans are considering gubernatorial bids in 2018.

An average of 29 Tennesseans were killed with guns annually by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners between 2006 and 2014, according to an Associated Press analysis of FBI data. About three-quarters of total 258 victims were women.

Tennessee’s law predated a recent push in more than a dozen states to strengthen laws on gun possession by domestic abusers, a rare area of consensus in the nation’s highly polarized debate over guns. The measures have been backed by victims’ advocates, law enforcement groups and gun control supporters who see easy access to firearms as a major contributor to domestic violence killings.

Tennessee’s guns-in-bars law was followed by a flood of other measures loosening restrictions on where permit holders could be armed, including in company parking lots, parks, greenways, sports fields and playgrounds. But the domestic violence measure has persevered since its near unanimous passage in 2009.

“It’s one step in giving these folks safety,” Harwell said. “Domestic violence is serious enough that this is a reasonable course of action.”

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