One of the hottest issues in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2012 pits the oaths that House Republicans (primarily House leadership) have taken to support all aspects of the Constitutions against the “purse strings” that Big Businesses, such as Federal Express, Nissan, Bridgestone have attached to the voting dispositions of House Republican leadership and even some rank and file members. That issue involves the Divine right of citizens to provide for their own self-defense while commuting to and from work as expressly augmented by the 2nd Amendment and Tennessee Constitutional rights.
Recently, House Republican leader Gerald McCormick made an inappropriate and disparaging comment about Rep. Eddie Bass (D.) who is carrying the version of the Employee Safe Commute Bill. That comment involved considerations by Rep. Bass to run as a Republican in 2012 and its specifically rejected – as opposed to welcoming – that possibility because Rep. Bass is the House Sponsor of the Employee Safe Commute bill (HB3560). McCormick is quoted in the news as follows:
Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga said he’s heard that Bass has been mulling a party switch for the last two or three years, but said he is satisfied with potential GOP candidates considering a bid in House District 65.
“I’d rather he’d stay where he is, to tell the truth,” McCormick said. “He’s not doing himself any favors running that gun bill.”
Against that comment and the other states appearing widespread in the news media from Speaker Beth Harwell, Rep. Debra Maggart and others, such as Gov. Haslam, consider that this week HB3660 was put on notice immediately after the original House sponsor was removed and replaced with Rep. Gerald McCormick (of House leadership infamy). The original sponsor on HB3660 was Rep. Don Miller (R) who is a freshman legislator and conceded his control over this bill most probably simply because it was demanded of him by leadership.
Let’s examine some facts. HB3660, as of the writing of this alert, has two (2) House sponsors Don Miller and Gerald McCormick. It is carried in the Senate by Southerland but there are no Senate cosponsors. It has had no action in the Senate since it was introduced.
Now, compare that with the NRA and TFA approved HB3560 which is carried in the Senate by Sen. Mike Faulk (R) and in the House by Rep. Eddie Bass (D). Rep. Bass is a seasoned legislator, a retired Tennessee Sheriff and has constistently shown unwaivering support for Tennesseans’ constitutional rights – not just their 2nd Amendment rights. That bill is set for a second hearing before the full Senate Judiciary on March 6 but is strongly and viciously opposed by House Republican leadership (noteably Speaker Harwll, Rep. Maggart and Rep. McCormick).
Significantly, note the sponsors on HB3560 (SB 3002). In the House, there are 29 bi-partisan co-sponsors: Evans, Eldridge (Chair of the Consumer and Employee Affairs committee where it is assigned), Faison, Weaver, Matheny (Speaker Pro Tempore), Pody, Wirgau, Tidwell, Holt, Floyd, Shipley, Ragan, Campbell, Butt, Keisling, Windle, Halford, Hill, Sanderson, Casada, Parkinson, Swann, Lollar, Alexander, Hall, Gotto, Ford , Forgety, Rich. Senate Cosponsors are Gresham, Beavers (Chair of Senate Judiciary), Summerville.
Notice that non of the House Leadership’s “axis of evil” in the context of the 2nd Amendment – Speaker Harwell, Maggart or McCormick – support this bill. Instead, they are working to kill it in order to appease the Big Business – big money investors in House leadership. Sadly for conservatives, this support is apparently based more on Chicago style influence peddling for dollars rather than supporting bills based on conservative and constitutional principles that directly impact the citizens.
So, you might wonder, what is so wrong with the bill that House Leadership does support (HB3660)? Well, taking the bill as it is written, here are some noteable differences that will cause TFA to negatively rate those who support HB3660 as current written:
1. It only applies to employee parking lots that are open to the public. It would deprive those employees of the capacity for self-defense while commuting if the employer provides or requires “employee only” parking areas.
2. It would not apply to anyone legally transporting a firearm but is limited to those with handgun permits under TCA 39-17-1351. Thus, those who do not need permits (e.g., retired officers and numerous others who are exempted from the handgun permit law) would not be covered.
3. It only applies during “regular working hours” so it may not apply to overtime or other “non-regular” working hours. It may not apply to employment related special events that do not take place during that employees “regular work hours” such as employment related events, parties, etc.
4. It would not apply to employees who are prohibiting from having firearms at work by any state law or regulation.
5. It would not apply to any employees of “any penal institution, correctional institution, detention facility, diversion center, jail, or similar place of confinement or confinement alternative;” without regard to whether these locations legitmately have heightened security issues or if the parking areas are used by other government employees.
6. It would not apply to employers who have established “employee only” parking with a specific set of features that almost any employer can implement such as a gate, a guard that checks vehicles entering the parking area, an employer policy banning guns, a policy that allows the employer to search employee vehicles, a “no gun” sign. (Please view actual list in the bill text).
7. The bill makes the “plaintiff” ABSOLUTELY LIABLE for all of the employer’s legal fees and expenses if any claim is brought against the employer by anyone for any reason relating to the criminal use of a firearm at the workplace if the lawsuit is resolved in favor of the employer.
This HB3660 is nothing more than pandering to business and an absolute insult to the rights of self-defense and the rights protected under the 2nd Amendment.
It is time to take action to call, email and contact your legislators to OPPOSE HB3660!!
We also still have the TFA Action Center email campaign operational and it is proving very popular and effective with more than 10,000 emails sent in the last few weeks to state legislators. With it you can send an email to your House member, your Senate member, each member of each Judiciary Committee and the Governor. Note: If you use the TFA Action Center campaign, please edit the subject and body of the message to customize it for your personal use. It will send it to your specific legislators based on your street address.
It is time to flood the offices of the legislature with our demands. Even if you have already sent a message or made a call, the work to protect our rights and remove infringements sometimes requires that we do more than a single email or phone call.
Also, these events make it important that we raise funds for the TFA PAC so that we can help to financially support not only the campaigns of those who have stood firm, particularly against the mandates of leadership, but also to support those who would challenge these “conservatives in name only” during election cycles. As with Speaker Naifeh, we might not defeat Speaker Harwell in an election but we can certainly defeat enough of those in the caucus who would return her to power.
The TFA website has been updated this week so that you can make your PAC contributions online and on an automatically recurring basis. We do not anticipate that we will raise the money that Federal Express, Brigestone, Nissan and others have invested to infringe your rights. We do know, however, that we can raise money to defeat some of those rank and file members who have shown a willingness to support the House Republican leadership that are working non-stop to appease Big Business and destroy your rights. It is how we stopped Jimmy Naifeh and it is how we can stop the House Republican leadership “axis of evil”.
There is an opportunity for Speaker Harwell and her lieutenants to realize that the rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment and the interests of conservatives are not to be taken for granted but if they fail to do so, it will soon be time to work to replace them from their thrones on Mount Olympus which may well be built on sands of financial business support rather than the stone foundations of the Constitution.