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No. 651: To blame, or not to blame
Photo by Michał Jakubowski / Unsplash

No. 651: To blame, or not to blame

📅 Today, Davis talks about gun thefts from cars, Miles previews the Super Bowl, and Megan updates us on the governor's office and looks at what Justin Jones has been up to.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Preventing criminal activity is not a difficult problem to solve: you punish the people committing the crimes; if the crimes continue, you increase the punishment. There may be a debate to be had around what constitutes a crime worthy of punishment, but I think we can all agree that stealing is indisputably a crime that should be punished. It’s the seventh commandment, after all.

In Nashville, gun thefts from vehicles receive an inordinate amount of airtime. Not only does the city keep a strict account of the exact number stolen, but it also sends out frequent updates, including how the number of incidents compared to the previous year.

With surgical precision absent almost any other criminal data, I can tell you that, as of January 24th, the total number of guns stolen this year in Davidson County is 73, 65 percent of which were taken from automobiles. That’s a 17 percent decrease in total gun thefts from the same time last year.

In response to this, Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) has been pushing a bill since this summer’s public safety special session that seeks to punish gun owners who improperly store guns in their vehicles. He’s been profiled in the New York Times for his advocacy and even attracted some across-the-aisle support from House Republicans like Rep. Jeremy Faison.

As he would have it, gun theft from vehicles is inevitable and the only solution to the problem is to force people to store them more safely. As surely as God created guns and cars, the former will always, unto eternity, be stolen from the latter whenever the two are brought together in union so long as both co-exist within the city of Nashville.

Receiving some much-needed backup to get this admittedly counterintuitive point across, Phil Williams penned a Footman Special this morning titled “Nearly 30,000 firearms stolen from vehicles since Tennessee GOP relaxed gun laws.”

The blame for the increase is squarely placed on the "guns in trunks" bill passed in 2013, which allowed Tennessee gun owners to keep guns in their cars and trucks provided they were properly stored. The issue, according to Hemmer and Co., is that there is no penalty for those who improperly store their firearms.

Returning to the common sense understanding of how to prevent criminal activity by punishing it, Megan’s reporting two weeks ago underscored how the lax enforcement of gun theft laws has led to a glut of repeat offenders.

Take Corye Stone, for example. Stone was booked in November 2023 for carjacking a 66-year-old woman at gunpoint in the Charlotte Pike Kroger parking lot. Criminal records show Stone had been arrested for firearm theft on three separate occasions since June 2023.

Maybe we should—I don’t know, just spitballing here—punish the people who steal a lot of guns from cars so they stop doing it so flippantly. It took Footman Phil over 1500 words to make his case and under 500 for me to make mine. Which makes more sense?

Onward.

Nashville

✸ SUPER BOWL LVIII MATCHUP IS SET

Kansas City Chiefs return to the Big Game for the 4th time in five seasons to face San Francisco 49ers

From Miles Harrington

Well folks, we are witnessing yet another season where the Chiefs fly under the radar, only to create playoff magic and find their way to the Super Bowl. It becomes clear with each passing year that Patrick Mahomes has taken the mantle from Tom Brady. Plain and simple, the Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL dynasty of the 2020s. 

Despite being statistical underdogs—the grim reaper of football—Mahomes and Kansas City cranked up the heat when oddsmakers turned a cold shoulder to the squad in favor of the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, the boys from Charm City had the best record in the league, but history serves best when predicting this outcome. Ignore the regular season stats; ignore “the league is scripted” tinfoil madhatters.

Continue reading...
Nashville

★ AS THE STATE OF THE STATE DRAWS NEAR

From Megan Podsiedlik

As the House and Senate approach their respective filing deadlines and the governor prepares to deliver his sixth state of the state address on Monday, tensions continue to bubble underneath the surface. While the initial pushback against the governor’s ESA expansion continues to grab headlines, state Democrats have started calling for Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds to resign.

Citing the state code, which says the commissioner “shall also be qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority,” those hoping to oust Reynolds say her résumé does not reflect those requirements. For his part, Governor Lee has defended Reynolds, insisting that her professional experience fulfills the law’s “shall” requirement. 

Reynolds’ qualifications are far from the only controversy. Last week, Governor Lee announced his support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s actions to tackle the crisis at the border. “The federal government’s failure to secure our nation’s southern border is jeopardizing the safety of all Americans,” Lee said in an X post. “Tennessee has always stood with Texas, and we always will.”

On top of that, the governor’s recent proposal to cut taxes for businesses doesn’t sit well with some Democrats, who’d prefer to explore different tax breaks, if any at all. “Those of us who are fiscally responsible would look at this and ask, ‘Is this the right time?’” Rep. John Ray Clemmons told WKRN

Expect more updates from us as the state of the state draws near.

SCATTERSHOT JONES 

As promised, Rep. Justin Jones introduced his reparations bill last week. Co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari, the bill would appoint a “task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.” Arkbari’s support comes as no surprise, given that last February, the commission in her district approved $5 million in order to start a reparations program in Shelby County.

While this bill, along with his gun control proposals, fall in line with his usual MO, Jones seems to be broadening his legislative horizons. On Thursday he introduced the “End Hedge Fund Control of Tennessee Homes Act. “Corporate greed is undermining our democracy and destroying our environment,” he posted. “Let’s continue to hold them accountable and fight for a more just future.”

Last month, Jeff Merkley, a Democratic senator from Oregon, proposed similar legislation that aims to “limit big institutional investors’ access to the housing market.” While tackling the chokehold private equity has on single-family rentals, an interesting stipulation of Jones’s act happens to create an exemption for federally constructed, acquired, or operated housing. Though this issue has drawn complaints across the political spectrum, Jones’s legislation seems to be having trouble finding a sponsor in the Senate. 

In another slight deviation from the norm, the progressive Nashvillian will also be attempting to take on the monopoly of major farming equipment companies. A bill sponsored by Jones and Sara Kyle (D–Memphis) would require “a manufacturer of agricultural equipment or…parts to provide an owner or independent repair shop access to tools, software, and documentation to allow the provision of services for the equipment.” If a similar Republican bill doesn’t pop up, there’s a chance the legislation will gain bipartisan support. 

HEADLINES

Tennessee commission renews Rocketship Nashville Northeast charter, overrides district (Tennessean) The move overturns a decision by the Metro Nashville Public Schools board to shutter the school at the end of the current school year. Metro voted 8-1 to close the school during a November meeting.

Legislation seeks to increase penalties for transportation of illegal aliens into the state (TCN) House Bill 2078 (HB2078) “As introduced, prohibits any person from transporting an illegal alien into this state; increases from $1,000 to $5,000 the fine for transporting illegal aliens. – Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 40.”

Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee Tightens Qualifications for Candidate Eligibility in GOP Primaries (Star) Beginning in 2026, an individual who has voted in any of the most recent four (4) statewide primary elections held by a party other than the applicable Republican Party will be ineligible to seek the Republican nomination for any public office in Tennessee.

DEVELOPMENT

  • The 14-Story Aspire Midtown Takes Shape In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Real estate industry pro buys on city’s south side (Post)
  • Neuhoff District lands another high-profile tenant (Post)
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.

TONIGHT

🎸 Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ Ryman Auditorium, 7:30p, $59.50+, Info

🪕 Bronwyn Keith-Hynes Band @ Dee's Lounge, 8:30p, $10, Info

💀 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info

🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 650: No one likes the TSA
📅 Today, Davis dismantles the TSA, Jerod reviews The Iron Claw, and Megan rounds up the latest from our two senators and the mayor’s office.
No. 649: Constitutional Crisis?!
📅 Today, Davis talks about the border, Hamilton joins us to talk about the promise of nuclear energy in a small Middle Tennessee town, Megan thinks about transit, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.
No. 648: Nothing to See Here
🏛 Business as usual, nothing to see here, at this week’s Metro Council meeting.
No. 647: Decolonizing the Arts
🎨 How Metro Arts is seeking to use anti-racism to decolonize the arts and what to expect from the new commissioners.
No. 646: The Metro Labyrinth
🗓 Today, Miles discusses men’s basketball at UT and the prospect of their reaching the Final Four for the first time in program history, and Megan breaks down the labyrinth-like stormwater fee snafu.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

  • 🤼 The Iron Claw is a Heartland epic. Of course it isn’t an Oscar contender. (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.