Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 5, 2012:
The Senate Judiciary passed the bill by Sen. Faulk out with overwhelming support from all but a few. Unacceptable amendments (Sen. Yager) and delay tactics were cut off either by vote of the members and/or by Sen. Beavers as Judiciary chair. As it emerged from the Senate Judiciary, it was amended so that it would only apply to two classes of citizens – those with handgun carry permits from any state and those with Tennessee hunting licenses (age 21+). The permit holder amendment came from Sen. Faulk and the hunting license amendment came from Sen. Campfield who explained that his intent was to address the many hundreds of thousands of individuals who have Tennessee hunting licenses who have an interest in having their hunting equipment in their vehicles going to and from work particularly during hunting seasons and taking into consideration that many people work shifts which enable them to hunt before or after work but may not have time to go home to retrieve their equipment. It is our understanding that the fact that this bill did come out of the Senate Judiciary here near the end of the session was met with great displeasure by House and Senate leadership including Senators Ramsey and Ketron.
The Senate bill is now sent to the Senate Calendar and Rules committee to be assigned to the floor but we can expect delays from either that committee and/or the Senate itself in actually bringing this bill to a vote since it could have been heard on the floor this week if they really wanted to do so. We have received reports from a senator that Lt. Gov. Ramsey commented this week at an after-hours caucus event that the bill does not need to pass this year. No surprise there although it was Lt. Gov. Ramsey who personally promised TFA in 2010 that “they” would pass this law in 2011 if TFA stood down in 2011 so that Republicans could focus on other issues. TFA did stand down in a cooperative tone. So much for trusting promises….
On the House side, HB3560 has been rolled yet again even though it has 30 sponsors including the chair of the House Employee and Consumer Affairs Commitee Rep. Jimmy Eldridge. The bill was first continued to be heard on Wednesday, April 11, but it was almost immediately reset to 8:00 AM Tuesday, April 10 in HHR 30. We expect the bill to come up for a close voice vote. If Speaker Harwell or in her absence Speaker Pro Tempore Matheny desired, they could vote in the subcommittee to help the bill move forward. Harwell will not do so because she clearly does not support the change in the law based presumptively on her preference for “Big Business” over citizens’ lives. However, Rep. Matheny (who is a bill sponsor) might be willing to be available for the vote if there is enough encouragement.
It is also noteworthy at the subcommitee includes Rep. Eldridge and Rep. Casada who are also sponsors on the bill. Keep in mind that all of these men have presumably received and are receiving heavy pressure from Big Business and their operatives – including House Republican Leadership (Harwell, McCormick and Maggart) – to derail these bills any way possible. We need to apply as much encourage and in some instances pressure as possible to force these bills to the floor.
House Employee and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee Members
Committee Officers (Links to the phone numbers and email addresses)
Mark White, Chair
Jimmy Matlock, Vice-Chair
Another factor to consider is that if the bill is further delayed in the subcommittee or potentially even fails in the subcommittee, House Rule 80(13) appears to provide a means for the full Committee (which Rep. Eldridge, a sponsor, chairs) to “recall” the bill from the subcommittee to be heard in the full committee. We may need to be reminding the legislators (including your own legislators) that this rule exists and that it may be time to dust it off and use it to save this bill from the path that Speaker Harwell put it on by intentionally assigning it there rather than the historically traditional House Judiciary committee.
Employee Safe Commute remains in jeopardy even if the House moves it forward.
News reports this week continue to confirm and add concern that Republican Leadership in the General Assembly are lining up either against this bill or with Federal Express and other “Big Business” contributors.
AP Reports this week that Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Gov. Haslam are against the Senate version of the bill as still “going too far.” The AP reports:
Gov. Bill Haslam and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey are among the prominent Republicans trying to put the brakes on a bill seeking to guarantee employees the right to store their firearms in vehicles parked at work.
The bill advanced to the full Senate last week. It would allow people with state-issued handgun carry permits to store their weapons in their cars.
The Judiciary Committee rejected efforts to exclude schools and colleges and added a provision to extend the measure to anyone over age 21 with a hunting license.
“That’s a little bothersome to us to be honest with you,” Haslam told reporters last week. “The hunting license is of particular concern to us.”
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Ramsey and Haslam also called for the bill to give more leeway to businesses that don’t want to allow guns on their property.
For decades, hunters and recreational shooters have felt that they were not the target of anti-2nd Amendment rehortic. Now that bills regarding self-defense and enabling firearms owners to enjoy the full meaning of the 2nd Amendment’s “shall not be infringe” proclaimation are in the focus of the legislative light, firearms owners can get a better sense that those in government do not place any material significance to the proclamation that government shall not infringe the right to keep or bear arms.
Certainly, for some of these non-permitted firearms owners, this is a non-issue regarding whether they would be denied the oppotunity to take their equipment (similar to golfers) with them secured in their personal vehicles so that they might enjoy hunting or recreational shooting before or after work. Whether that is an issue or not, what this sentiment by Haslam and Ramsey discloses is that the term “shall not be infringed” has situational exceptions that are not included in the 2nd Amendment but which they, as elected officials, are free to read into it.
The point is that no such exceptions exist or can be implied because of the mandatory “shall.” There is no political correctness exception. There is no “reasonableness’ exception. Shall means shall and is prohibitory.
The more significant point is that the posture of Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Gov. Haslam on this issue evidences that they are not likely (despite prior statements otherwise) to ever endorse the idea of “Constitutional Carry” which is increasing in popularity, is the law in at least 4 states, is the law in several others which require permits only for “concealed” carry but which allow unpermitted open carry, and which is on legislative tracts to become the law in other states. The Tennessee Firearms Association has already identified the adoption of Constitutional Carry as one of its short term objectives and what we see with statements such as this is that Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Gov. Haslam are not likely to be supportive of those efforts.
Rep. Debra Maggart – the targetted Rino.
The last 2 legislative years have been a great disappointment for Tennessee gun owners, Tennessee Tea Party groups (who this week saw their constitutional sheriffs legislation shot down by Republican legislators) and others who have focused on firearms, 2nd Amendment, 10th Amendment and other conservative legislative while we see things like “baggy pants” laws and numerous laws demanded by “Big Business” take precedence over the rights and concerns of citizens and the restoration of constitutional principles. This has made it a necessity for grassroots organizations to start identifying members of leadership and other powerful legislative members (like caucus officers and committee chairment) to replace with more conservative candidates either in primaries or general elections.
One such House Republican leader, who has evidenced that she has marginalized and taken grassroots organizations for granted, is Rep. Debra Maggart from the 45th District. She has made the comment that TFA and presumably other organizations “must” work with the Republican caucus as its “best friend”. Alternative, that statement could be understood to mean that from TFA’s perspective, she was saying that TFA has no option but to work with the House Republican caucus as the lesser of two evils. While that might be accurate in either perspective, that does not mean that TFA or other grassroots organization have to work with specific legislators who have proven to be unwilling to move forward by carrying the torch for and with constitutional grassroots organizaitons and interests. With the announcement of Lt. Col. Courntey Rogers to run as a Republican against Rep. Debra Maggart, an alternative exists that must be examined and considered much as with the announcement at the federal level this week that Lou Ann Zelnick has qualified to run against Rep. Diane Black.
While conservatives may pick the “lesser of two evils” to paraphrase Debra Maggart and “have to vote Republican” (at least until there is a substantial change in the direction of the state and federal Democratic parties), conservaitves do not have to vote for specific incumbents that bear the endorsements of the state party, legislative super PAC’s of the leadership, or even “Big Business” funding. Conservatives can have alternatives in the primaries and are encouraged to seek them out if the incumbents have a history – not just a voting history – of taking conservatives and the Constitutions for granted and marginalizing those interests as “in the bag” rather than of first importance.