Convicted Felon Kills Armed Robber – Potentially Avoids Gun Charge

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE — When the Breadbox convenience store in Knoxville was being held up at gunpoint by an 18 year old thug, it was an armed convicted felon who fought back. In a surprising turn of events, Issac Jamal Scruggs, 42, happened to be shopping for some daily items when Tamal Stapleton, 18, came in and held the clerk at gunpoint.

According to WBIR – Knoxville, the clerk of the convenience store also happened to be a friend of Scruggs.  Perhaps that was Stapleton’s biggest mistake?  Scruggs, whom was carrying a firearm even though he was a convicted felon, turned and fatally shot the would-be robber.

While the State of Tennessee is not pressing charges against the convicted felon due to him using a firearm to save the life of another, federal charges still haven’t been ruled out.  At present, Knoxville police have ruled the case closed and are not presently filing charges.

His gun was taken, though.  And due to his prior felonies from ten years ago – including aggravated assault and possession of a weapon – it is unlikely he’ll be able to recover it through civil forfeiture proceedings.

Should Felons Be Given A Second Chance?

Scruggs appears to have felony convictions that were violent in nature but are ten years in his past.  At what point should a felon be allowed to lawfully reacquire firearms – if at all?

While Tennessee appears to have a light stance on this issue, in other states it would have likely ended much differently.  Should felony convictions constitute as permanent restrictions to a person’s Constitutional rights?

Tennessee appears to take a very interesting stance on the issue in their state law.  According to prior court cases involving similar matters, it was ruled in those cases that:

“…A person shall not be charged with or convicted of a violation under this part if the person possessed, displayed or employed a handgun in justifiable self-defense or in justifiable defense of another during the commission of a crime in which that person or the other person defended was a victim.”

State of Tennessee V. Tracy Clark

This does not absolve a convicted felon from carrying or maintaining a firearm on his person.  In fact, federal gun charges can very quickly result.  What it does state is that anyone is absolved from prosecution if the handgun used is in active defense of himself or another potential victim.

So, while a convicted felon may not purchase or carry a firearm in the State of Tennessee, he may employ one in the event of a life-threatening emergency.  Is that Tennessee’s way of working around the federal statutes impeding felons or is it just common sense?

While federal prosecutors are unable to deny or confirm they will present federal gun charges against Scruggs, both the Knox County District Attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office for Eastern Tennessee don’t appear to be in any rush.

What do you think about a convicted felon’s right to firearms?  Tell us in the comments section below.

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is a CZ-75D in a Specter IWB Holster made by Lenwood Holsters out of Missouri.
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