Self-defense bill against threatening animals up for Tenn. Senate vote

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee is just a few steps away from getting to what amounts to a self-defense “stand your ground” law against “threatening animals.”

The measure, Senate Bill 0205 and House Bill 0135, which is scheduled for a vote in the Tennessee Senate on March 19, grew out of personal connections with at least two state lawmakers.

Sen. Frank Niceley told News 2 he had a friend face a potential fine from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) after shooting a threatening bear while hunting wild boar.

“Asking some prosecutors, I discovered Tennessee does not have a self-defense law to protect against you against threatening animals,” said Niceley, who is sponsoring the measure in the Senate.

Rep. Jeremy Faison has a similar story, but it involved his children and a copperhead.

The Cocke County lawmaker posted pictures on Facebook of the snake he killed with a shovel after his kids found it in the family’s backyard in 2013, but a friend told him he could face a fine.

“You are not allowed to kill an animal in Tennessee. Period,” Faison told News 2, “Unless you have a license to kill it. If we have laws that say I can kill a human being if I am threatened by danger, then we ought to be able to at least take the life of an animal if my family or my live is in danger.”

The companion bill in the House sponsored by Rep. Faison is likely headed to the full chamber after passing through various committees.

The TWRA has not indicated any opposition to the measure except to note that the bill is not the agency’s.

A statement from TWRA spokesperson Doug Markham read, in full: “While this is not a bill that TWRA introduced, the agency has worked with legislators and understands their intent. The agency’s policy is to address wildlife issues fairly on a case by case basis. We always want to make sure the public understands the state’s wildlife laws and the reasons for them.”


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