Press Release from the Tennessee Firearms Association Legislative Action Committee; May 2, 2011:
CALL TO ACTION
URGENT NEEDS FOR PHONE CALLS / EMAILS / PERSONAL VISITS
Of all the issues that were left on the list of changes requested by Tennessee’s firearms owners, hunters, recreational shooters and constitutional conservatives, after the 2010 legislative session, the single issue that was most frequently identified by candidates for office in Tennessee as being promised for 2011 if they were put in power was a change in the law which would protect citizens who have civilian handgun permits and who desire to be armed while commuting to and from work. Protection not from criminals – that is a matter of personal responsibility. No, what was promised was legislative protection from “big business” employers who stand for both criminal prosecution of employees and the “for cause” employment termination of employees who desire or have a need to be armed while commuting to and from work. This legislative protection is commonly called the “employee parking lot bill.”
There are at least two such bills pending this year. One is sponsored by Democrats and with an overwhelming Republican control in the General Assembly, such credit for such change is not likely to be tolerated. The other bill is sponsored by Republicans in the House and Senate (House Bill 2021 and Senate Bill 2061).
The promise is evaporating even with huge Republican majorities in 2 of the 3 branches of State Government.
House Bill 2021 by Rep. Joshua Evans started off pretty much as promised. Once it made it to the House Judiciary Committee, however, it was amended to remove the promises to the civilians. Instead, it morphed into a pro-business bill of permissive immunity. Under the amended bill, those business which opted to allow civilian handgun permit holders to commute armed and to leave their handguns secured in their parked cars would be granted civil immunity from any claims in any way related to the firearm or the policy.
Nothing in the amendment mandated a protection for civilians. Nothing balanced the property rights of civilian permit holders to store things in their cars (which are protected locations under Tennessee’s version of the castle doctrine) with the claimed “property rights” of employers to control what happens in open parking lots which are typically easily accessed by the public.
House Bill was set for hearing on the House Floor on April 27. When an amendment by Rep. Eddie Bass was proposed that would have restored the protections to civilians, the House sponsor, Rep. Joshua Evans moved the bill back to the House Judiciary Committee. Why? It is not clear. Perhaps it was to preclude a recorded vote on the bill which some feel would have caused too many of the House Republicans to vote against the bill at the insistence of business lobbies rather than the demands of the citizens. If such protection was the objective, it would have been because the Republicans do not want the constitutionalists, the citizens, or Tennessee’s firearms owners to know that these Republicans who would vote against the bill support big business and the campaign funding that business provides over the safety and the rights of citizens.
House Bill 2021 is now set for the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. Before that time, it is important that as many as possible contact their House and Senate members, all members of the House Judiciary, and the sponsors. It is important that your voices be heard or your rights may be trampled to the god of Business.
Finally, let me add that in the past we have heard assertions of incremental changes as being better than nothing at all. This was the sales pitch used in an attempt to dilute the restaurant carry law and in fact some of what happened in 2009 that resulted in that particular law being declared unconstitutionally vague. Folks, appeasement and incremental change frequently results in a negative for progress in these matters. Too frequently, when incremental change is accepted by the citizen the reply of the General Assembly when we go back to fix it right is that “we just dealt with that last year, so let’s give it a few years to see how that works.”
Therefore, it is important to demand that they do it right or do not do it at all. If those – who made promises and are now more beholding to “business” than to those who voted them into office – will not do what is right and what was promised, then the answer is do not accept appeasement and middle ground when legislators are trying to appease the voters but, perhaps from their personal perspectives, maintain the support of business interests and business funding for their re-election campaigns. What the citizens must do is demand full protections of their most fundamental right of self-defense and self-protection. If election officials will not acknowledge and support that most fundamental right, then force them to change their priorities or replace them in the next election cycle.
The House Sponsor is Joshua Evans – (some might find it interesting that Rep. Evans was a major recipient of TFA PAC funds):
The House Judiciary Members can be reached through the House Judiciary’s page with phone numbers and email addresses: House Judiciary Web Page
In addition, TFA has a specific legislative campaign running which will help you by sending the same message – of your own creation – to your House member, your Senate member, and all members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. Please take advantage of this resource as well.