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Evidence is emerging that Tennessee State Senator John Stevens lied in statements made during a hearing last week. Just before a vote was held on SB250, a bill that would make it a criminal offense for federal agents to enforce unconstitutional gun laws, Sen. Stevens said that he had spoken to 5 out of 6 Sheriffs in his district, and that they all opposed the bill as written.
In a statement he made on his Facebook page Sen. Stevens said:
“As I said in committee, I spoke with five out of the six sheriffs in my district before the vote, and spoke to the sixth after the vote. Six out of the six sheriffs told me that they would not enforce this bill as written because it was unconstitutional.”
This statement is absolutely fabricated.
TN Fully Exposed has been in contact with four of the six sheriffs and received word through a third party of the position of the fifth.
Sheriff Chuck Arnold in response to our request for clarification said:
“At no time have I discussed SB 250 with Senator Stevens…I say again sir, I never spoke with the Senator. I did receive a voice mail apology from the Senator saying there was some confusion between him and his staff. He stated he would remove the post but as of Monday it has not been removed.”
He went on to say he was a devout defender of the constitution and that he welcomed legislation that aids the Sheriff in that capacity.
Weakely County Sheriff Mike Wilson acknowledge by phone that he had spoken with Senator Stevens’ office about the bill, but he had not had the chance to read the text. He continued that based on what he was told, the bill sounded political since he already had a duty to protect second amendment rights and he would absolutely enforce SB250 if it passed. He did express concerns that the bill as expressed to him would apply to hand grenades and explosives since it didn’t specifically define what was an unconstitutional gun law.
Finally Sheriff Tony King of Benton County confirmed to a source that he too was contacted by Senator Stevens’. He, like Sheriff Wilson, had not read the text of the bill and did not want to state a position. When Senator Stevens indicated that he would simply say that Sheriff King would not support sb250 because it was unconstitutional the sheriff objected and told the Senator he was not prepared to make that statement.
Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder confirmed that he opposed the bill. “I did speak with Senator Stevens last Wednesday and advised him I was opposed to SB250. I feel the bill is a knee jerk reaction to the rumors spreading that the government is going to take away a citizens right to bear arms.”
That being said, he continues, “Agents can only enforce laws related to interstate commerce, so they have no jurisdiction on items made in Tennessee and remain in Tennessee. As a Sheriff in the State of Tennessee I take an oath to enforce the laws of the State of Tennessee and hold the US Constitution. I do and will enforce any Tennessee state law…”
In a phone conversation with Sheriff Monte Belew likewise said he was opposed to the bill and he could not imagine a scenario where he would arrest a federal agent performing his duty. However when given the scenario of the house to house gun confiscation that took place during Katrina he responded, “Not in Henry county. My department isn’t going to do that [mass confiscation] and if anyone else tries it then that’s when we’ll have problems.”
During a podcast recorded today, Lou Ann Zelenik, Executive Director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition and founder of the Rutherford County Tea Party said she was aware of four Sheriffs denouncing the Stevens’ statement.
The Facebook statement is not the only lie told by Senator Stevens last week. According to Zelenik, who has been in contact with Senator Beavers and was present during last week’s hearing, Senator Stevens had expressed to Beavers that he was going to support the measure.
He had even reiterated this support on the evening before the hearing. However, he reportedly caved to pressure from party leaders on the morning of the hearing and reversed his position.
As a newly elected senator, Stevens has time to repair the damage to his reputation. Zelenik expressed that he was genuinely nice and a bright man. The fact that he reached out to the Sheriffs demonstrates there is potential. Nevertheless, the next election will determined whether the exaggerations are remembered by the voters.