“I introduced a bill last week to prevent state dollars, your dollars, to be used to enforce any bill or executive order meant to infringe on our Second Amendment rights,” Ketron said Saturday to a crowd of more than 1,000 people during the Gun Appreciation Day rally held near Legislative Plaza in Nashville.
The bill also includes a measure that would prohibit the allocation of any funding for state employees to implement, regulate or enforce any federal law or executive order that adversely affects the right to possess or carry firearms in Tennessee.
The Murfreesboro native said he drafted the bill because President Barack Obama and some members of Congress are proposing regulations that would negatively affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals.
The rally was just one of hundreds held across the country three days after Obama urged Congress to pass a ban on what he described as military-style weapons, which would include the AR-15 rifle, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that occurred in December 2012.
On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which did not have a school resource officer. Prior to the mass shooting, he killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their shared home.
When officers arrived at the scene, Adam Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head before he could be taken into custody, according to Connecticut law enforcement officials.
Despite the fact that all of the guns Adam Lanza used in the shooting were purchased legally by his mother, Obama has ramped up efforts to implement stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons are not appropriate for mass consumption.
As such, Obama said he wants Congress to place limits on high-capacity magazines and tighten gun-trafficking laws that would be designed to combat the spread of weapons across state lines.
He also signed 23 executive orders aimed at strengthening enforcement of existing gun laws and increasing the flow of information between federal agencies in order to more closely monitor gun purchases.
Noting he does not support any of those proposals, Ketron said he would strongly resist any future attempts to confiscate weapons.
“From my cold dead hands will they have to pry that gun out of my hand,” Ketron said, referring to actor Charlton Heston, the former president of the National Rifle Association.
“I hope our fellow Tennesseans in Congress hear us today,” he said. “This is the time to draw a line in the sand. Do not tread on Tennessee.”
Accompanied by several members of the Rutherford County delegation, Ketron urged attendees to call on Tennessee lawmakers to support his proposal, as well as a bill sponsored by Republican state Rep. Joe Carr, of Lascassas.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said, “and we need your help.”
During the rally, Carr defended his proposal against recent criticism that the bill violates the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, saying it is his responsibility to try to protect the rights of all Tennesseans.
“This bill is about defending our state sovereignty,” Carr said. “We have had enough, and enough is enough.”
If passed by the General Assembly, the bill would criminalize any attempts by federal agents to enforce bans on semiautomatic weapons or ammunition.
The bill would also exempt residents from having to register any type of gun, firearm accessories or ammunition with the federal government, as long as it is locally owned, manufactured in the state, and remains inside Tennessee.
In addition, it would require the attorney general to defend residents facing prosecution by the U.S. government for violating any new federal gun laws – proposals that have not yet been considered or passed through Congress.
“It is my God given right, found in the Bill of Rights, to defend my life, my family and my property,” Carr said. “That is your right too, and we must defend those rights.”
State Rep. Mike Sparks, a Republican from Smyrna, also addressed the crowd during the hourlong event, which included speeches by Nashville resident Ken Marrero, a prominent Tea Party activist, and John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.
Sparks said he “would rather be talking about jobs and education,” but Tennesseans must stand up for their Second Amendment rights, especially given the fact that strict gun control laws like those in Illinois have largely proven ineffective.
“Look at Chicago,” Sparks said in reference to the soaring homicide rate that has consumed the district Obama used to represent as an Illinois senator.
“And yet, they are trying to tell us how to clean our house when they cannot get their own house in order,” he said. “This is why I am frustrated. … The federal government is forcing us into a defensive position, making us take a stand for our (Second Amendment rights), when there are other issues that need our attention.”
To see more photos from the Gun Appreciation Day rally, as well as other pictures from recent events, visit the photos section of our website.