‘Intent to go armed’ law oppresses Tennesseans

Under Tennessee's "intent to go armed" law, hundreds of people are trapped in criminal prosecutions. The law is a tool to terrify and intimidate the people.

Under Tennessee’s “intent to go armed” law, hundreds of people are trapped in criminal prosecutions. The law is a tool to terrify and intimidate the people.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. — Psalm 19:7

By David Tulis

We know we are under judgment in Tennessee because its laws are such a contradiction to His. God’s law is summarized in the 10 commandments and made Israel the envy of surrounding kingdoms because of the perfections of its code. King David loved God’s law and wrote Psalm 119 in favor of its glory. “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.” (Psalm 119:103-106)

Fallen men write laws that are devious, shifting, unjust and wicked. Sometimes mere opinion is elevated to law. Roe vs. Wade forbids the defense of the unborn, and 58.5 million children in the 50 states have been slain. Obergefell vs. Hodges begins the long process of deconstructing marriage in the laws of the 50 states (unless they lawfully resist and interpose).

In Hamilton County Judge Jeff Atherton made the valuable point that high court opinions that “vacate” laws are not laws themselves and do not create any structure by which a targeted activity is to afterward be governed.

Unknowable and unclear

Often the laws are shifting and unknowable. State laws against the carrying of a firearm “with the intent to go armed” were forged in full distrust of freed blacks. The recognition of our unalienable right to bear arms is in the bill of rights, Section 26. “That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” In the 1834 constitution “free white men” was used where we have “citizen” today.

An exception was written into the law in July 2014 that lets weapon owners keep loaded firearms in their vehicles even if they don’t have a state-issued handgun-carry permit. People who are legally able to possess a gun under state and federal law are able to keep a loaded handgun, shotgun or rifle in a car or truck they legally possess.

Previously, only those with concealed carry permits could keep loaded firearms in their vehicles. Those without carry permits could keep unloaded firearms in the vehicle if the ammunition was stored separately.

But the law contains traps. Removing the gun from the vehicle suddenly puts people under the threat of the the primary statute in Title 39 of the code.

Right to self-defense

The right to defend one’s person from attack, and one’s people from invasion or wicked government inhere’s to each man as a gift and promise of God.

But state government weakened and finally became absorbed by the state of Tennessee. We are governed by a ban on the transportation of any weapon and the creation of a minefield for anyone moving a rifle, pistol or baseball bat from Ooltewah to Soddy-Daisy as to when he might do so.

TCA 39-17-1307. Unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon.
(a) (1) A person commits an offense who carries, with the intent to go armed, a firearm or a club.

The movement of your person and your property is indistinguishable from liberty. If your liberty requires you to stay home — whether for worship or the hauling of a 30-caliber rifle — you don’t have liberty.

You might favor a law that states explicitly that a prosecutor has to prove intent before he can obtain a conviction. But the only excuse allowed appears to be that you didn’t know the gun was in your car. If you knew the gun was nearby and had it available, then you have constructive intent. If your wife hauls onto the highway in a pickup that she knows probably has your .380 under the seat — that’s intent. And she will be convicted.

The jury has to convict on the word carry, not just intent. The intent to go on can be argued by implication, but carry is something else for the jury to ponder. Is a gun under a seat “carrying.”

The word carrying is not defined in statute. You’d think the courts would interpret carrying as referring to the constitution’s use of the word “wearing.” But no. There comes before the jury the possibility of constructive possession, of building part of the accusation around the vagueness of intent, and the other part of its claim upon carrying, which it can argue is taking, transporting, having with, having near while in motion and the like.

The law as written requires a person traveling about in a borrowed or rented car with a means of self-defense (gun) to have a ruse explanation.

If he has a bat (aka club) he needs also to carry a baseball and a glove, to legitimize his pretext of carrying a club (“I am playing a game tonight” or “I have a friend at work who has two young boys, and I was taking these items to give to him tomorrow.”)
If he has a gun in the back seat, he must fit a ruse into a part of the law that provides “defenses” to carrying or possessing a gun or weapon on the road.

One is that the seizure is “incident to lawful hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, sport shooting or other lawful activity.”

So, to avoid the “carrying with intent to go armed charge” for having a gun in your car, you have to have some fresh bullseye targets, string, black tape, a hammer, stakes, clothesclips and other paraphernalia that might reasonably accompany one’s going on a plinking outing with the boys with paper targets downrange.

In Tennessee another defense to the seeming absolute ban on the transportation of weapons is that you are in a place of residence or business.

State uses muddy law as club

In the Hirsch case in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., the prosecutor and the trooper conspired to confuse the carrying with that of possession. Possession is an offense ONLY if one is a convicted felon with control over a weapon.

Given the murk of the carrying law, one might resort to hauling about truly military weapons and their supplies. So, a Colt .45 is a military weapon whereas a .38 Magnum is not. A bolt action rifle is for hunting, but a Mini-14 or an AR15 is for warfare. Given the statute, transporting a weapon that bears in its appearance a military style, usage or purpose gives the bearer a defense against prosecution. An early decision said the wearing or carrying of all weapons which are not army weapons, or weapons in the constitutional sense, may be absolutely prohibited.

Early decisions say carrying arms is equivalent to “wearing arms” or “going armed.” The intent that is being criminalized is that of being armed or going armed or wearing a pistol with the purpose of going armed. Carrying a pistol in a sack is not a violation of the law, one ruling says, but the individual must be shown to have been carrying the gun in the sack for the purpose of being armed. Try to figure this out yourself; I cannot. One can innocently carry an army pistol concealed in a sack in the hand, unless so carried with the purpose of going armed. Duh!

The confusing state of the law is clearly violative of the plain language of the state constitution that says the legislature may regulate solely the “wearing” of arms. Everything else is, plainly, off limits.

Hirsch urges organic law

In 2013 Arthur Jay Hirsch was charged under the law prior to its revision a year later. His trial occurred Dec. 22, 2015, and he was convicted on the gun charge. In a lawsuit filed the day before trial in Lawrence County, Tenn., Mr. Hirsch, known as “the fiddle man” of Lawrenceburg for his musicmaking among inmates of nursing homes, states with simplicity what constitutional government looks like.

“Defendant [trooper Jeff] REED knew or should have known that Plaintiff’s unalienable rights are superior and antecedent to the organization of America and the State of Tennessee, and are not subject to administrative law statutes. *** REED knew or should have known that the free, natural, unalienable right of every man and woman to keep and bear arms for the preservation and defense of their God-gifted life, and the life of their neighbor (without state taxed “privileges” regulations, and the invasion of privacy) by permit, was recognized by the founders of Tennessee in their original intent by forcefully stating that the people’s rights delegated and undelegated were “excepted out of the General Powers of Government and shall for ever [i.e. forever] remain inviolate.”

He quotes the 1796 constitution on original intent: “Article 10th – Sect. 4th The Declaration of Rights hereto annexed is declared to be a part of the Constitution of this State and Shall never be violated on any pretence whatever. And to Guard against transgressions of the high Powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in the Bill of Rights contained and every other right not hereby delegated is excepted out of the General Powers of Government and shall for ever [i.e. forever] remain inviolate.” (emphasis added)

He says the trooper “breached his oath of office and duty to secure Plaintiff’s unalienable rights, and acted outside the scope of his authority by arresting and charging Plaintiff for exercising his God-endowed right of self preservation” with a revolver in his car. He quotes Miller v. U.S. 230 F 486, 489, in its famous dictum, “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime,” and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491, “Where rights secured by the constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.”

God’s law unchanging

Many Christians speak askance of God’s law. Somehow it is “legalistic” to uphold it or speak favorably of God’s legal standards. Somehow we are made to feel that in talking about God’s law we are concerning ourselves with the things of this world and not those above. In citing the commandments or a statute in Leviticus or Deuteronomy, we are made out to be worldlings who care too much for the world, and not enough for the cross or the things of Christ.

These arguments are balderdash and unworthy of any lover of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God’s law is plain; it is understandable; it is not honeycombed with exceptions and discoverable only with aid of an attorney.

God’s law is straightforward, knowable, and mankind knows what to expect. It is plainspoken.

— David Tulis hosts a talk show weekdays in Chattanooga from 9 to 11 a.m. on 1240 AM Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. Support this site and his radio station on the real airwaves in Chattanooga, on your smartphone via the TuneIn radio app or at Hotnewstalkradio.com. You back David by patronizing his advertisers with specific reference to him. Even better, encourage independent media by having David run commercials for your business. Also, “buy me a coffee at the tip jar.”

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