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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.

About G. Halek | View all posts by G. Halek

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun…

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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  • Massolo

    I think, if we are going to adhere to the concept that people can be rehabilitated and change their ways, there should be a legal apparatus for felons to get their gun rights back. In the case of habitual violence felonies, I would encourage a psychological evaluation as well.

  • Mike Yeager

    shall not be infringed

  • anarchyst

    ..once a felon has completely paid off his “debt to society” ALL rights should be restored…

    • Baseballguy2001

      I disagree. A felony conviction is a serious crime. I personally wouldn’t want a rapist or former armed robber to have his 2A rights restored in any way, shape, or form.

      • Steve

        lol, you obviously have never looked at what all the government considers a felony. I would support it only because a lot of felonies are bullshit.

  • Jim Tebo

    As sad as it may sound, you have to go with the law, this guy was a convicted felon, who was not suppose to have a gun, what if nothing would have happened and a police officer came by saw the gun, what would have happened ? This felon would have been arrested and gone to jail, people are probably glad that he was there with a gun, as they should be, but he was still in violation of the law. IF he is white the DOJ will be there to prosecute, but if he is black, the DOJ will let it ride, and let him walk

  • Scotat

    Was just discussing this with and ex-con buddy of mine. His house was broken into last night and he had to resort to defending his person and property with a machete. Thankfully that worked and the low-life ran off. My buddies offenses were drug related only from 20+ years ago. I think there should be some sort of provision for evaluating if ex-cons like him are competent and responsible enough to have their 2nd amendment rights recognized. He should be able to properly defend himself.

    • Sumner_Vengeance

      “. I think there should be some sort of provision for evaluating if
      ex-cons like him are competent and responsible enough to have their 2nd amendment rights recognized”

      There are. tell him to search harder on the WWW and find a lawyer.

  • law-abiding-citizen

    “Is that Tennessee’s way of working around the federal statutes impeding felons or is it just common sense?”
    Ummm . . . Hello???!! Wjat can’t it be both – they’re not mutually exclusive.

  • Rick O’Brien

    The Governor can grant him a pardon, and all his civil rights would be restored, including the right to own a firearm.

    • Sumner_Vengeance


      Otherwise the streets will be flooded with “rehabbed” violent felons, certified by your local Dem Community Organizers, and oh yes, they can then vote…


      • Adam

        Good stuff.

        • Sumner_Vengeance

          Stand fast.

  • Semper_Fi

    The state had no right to destroy his weapon. No Confiscations. Once the guilty party is assessed the weapon should have been returned. Otherwise he is being punished for a crime he has already served the time for……that is double jeopardy. How the government has been getting away with this for years is a mystery to me.

    Shall Not Infringe means no Gun Confiscations……No Regulations……No Registrations.

    Leave the tool alone. Judge the persons actions and nothing else. Properly inflict punishment worthy of the crime. Not to light…..not to harsh. Restore the person to whole upon finish of the sentence. If within custody additional charges are brought. Add to the sentence. Do not run them concurrent. Then we will have a person whom is ready for a second chance.

    Semper Fidelis

  • Jimmy Ingram

    If you have paid for your crime then all rights should be reinstated

  • Arthur Morse

    If the ex-felon committed non-violent crimes then rights should be restored upon completion of sentence and/or probation/parole. Violent offenders only after 10-15 years of being crime free and completion of anger management or counseling. Repeat violent offenders – never.

  • Chris Mason

    I would like to see local sheriff come to this guy’s defense should the Feds try to get involved. Like what we saw with the raw milk farmers.

  • Dan Baron

    In Tn. A convicted felon may petition the court to have his rights restored. Of course it takes an attorney and money. Nashville had a sherrif who was convicted of felonies, served his time and on release petitioned the court and had all rights restored. A lot of people were upset but it was legal.

  • To allow him to be restored for second amendment purposes sets the path of a society willing to swear off consequences. All actions have consequences…He committed violent felonies and that is the consequence under which one shall not possess guns.

  • rick

    I feel that a convicted felon should be able to retain his rights after say a 10 year no offense probationary period! I am a one time felon,much younger,domestic, avid outdoorsman my entire life,x military veteran of Korea,and completely turned my life around for over 12 yrs. Which the felony was the only bad thing I done. I did 10 months,not a lifetime of problems by far. Give us our rights back to maybe save our own life or other’s !!