Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 26, 2012:
House Leadership and Republican Caucus using misleading statements for cover to distract public from their true motives.
Roll Back History…
First, this bill has been pending and debated in the legislature since at least 2009. That is a period of four years.
April 27, 2011. The 2011 version of a Safe Commute law was scheduled for a floor vote. It was carried by Republican Joshua Evans. It was not endorsed by NRA or TFA at the time. It was permissive. It did not require employers to allow safe storage. What it did was gave civil immunity to those employers who voluntarily allowed it. On the House Floor, Rep. Bass moved to make the bill mandatory. When he did, Rep. Evans moved to “table” the proposed amendment which is a kind way of testing the votes to defeat it. Of those voting to kill the Bass amendment, 33 were Republicans (in bold):
HB2021 by Evans – FLOOR VOTE: LAY ON THE TABLE MOTION TO ADOPT AMENDMENT # 2 BY Bass PASSAGE ON THIRD CONSIDERATION 4/27/2011
Present and not voting…………………..5
Representatives voting aye were: Brooks H, Brooks K, Butt, Carr, Casada, Coley, Dennis, Dunn, Eldridge, Ford, Harrison, Haynes, Hurley, Keisling, Kernell, Lundberg, Marsh, Matlock, McCormick, McManus, Miller D, Montgomery, Odom, Powers, Ramsey, Roach, Sargent, Sexton, Shipley, Sparks, Weaver, Williams R, Wirgau, Womick, Madam Speaker Harwell — 35.
Representatives voting no were: Alexander, Armstrong, Bass, Brown, Camper, Cobb, Cooper, Curtiss, Dean, DeBerry J, Favors, Fitzhugh, Floyd, Forgety, Gotto, Halford, Hardaway, Harmon, Hensley, Holt, Johnson C, Johnson P, Jones, Lollar, Matheny, McDaniel, McDonald, Miller L, Moore, Naifeh, Niceley, Parkinson, Pitts, Pody, Rich, Richardson, Sanderson, Shaw, Shepard, Sontany, Stewart, Swann, Tidwell, Tindell, Todd, Towns, Turner J, Turner M, Watson, Williams K, Windle — 51.
Representatives present and not voting were: Campbell, Faison, Gilmore, Hill, Ragan — 5.
To be fair, many of those Republicans who voted to kill the NRA and TFA endorsed “Bass amendment” later claimed that they did not know what they were voting on – they merely followed the “leader” of the legislation and did what he wanted. Many later denied knowing that they were voting against the NRA. What is it Pelosi said, “we have to pass it before we will know what is in it….” Their job is to make and cast knowing and intelligent votes. Blindly following a leader is nothing but partisanship allegiance – not stewardship.
In response to the backlash from the anti-2nd Amendment stunt on the House floor last year, Rep. Gerald McCormick tried to “appease”, some might say trick, constitutional conservatives. Shortly thereafter, McCormick issued the following press release on July 13, 2011, in which he announced the creation of the House “Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force” That letter provided (with some emphasis added)
Fellow Caucus Members:
I hope that this letter finds you well. I am very proud of the great things we accomplished together during this past legislative session, and confident that we will continue that positive momentum when we return in January. In order to accomplish that goal, it is vital that we devote time during recess to study important issues that impact all those that live across our great state.
With that in mind, I am writing this letter to advise you that I am appointing a Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force. The rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment are sacred to many citizens, and we must ensure we craft responsible legislation to protect those rights. This task force will be responsible for studying current state laws to identify if any changes may need to be made. In addition, it will meet with outside groups to gain a better understanding of these issues. The task force will report back to members of the Republican Caucus with results of their study.
The Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force will consist of the following members:
Rep. Curry Todd, Chairman
Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny
Rep. Joshua Evans
Rep. Andy Holt
Rep. Barrett Rich
Rep. Glen Casada
Rep. John Forgety
Please feel free to contact members of this task force if you have any additional questions about this important issue.
Insofar as can be determined, no other such taskforce was announced by House Leadership. What is important however is that this task force was later canceled by McCormick and then revived when Rep. Matheny said he would go forward with it. It’s meetings were not publicly announced and to our knowledge there was only 1 meeting with about 3 of the public in attendance. Nothing was studied. The meeting was brief. There has been no public report of the meeting. There was clearly no legislative agenda – other than stall and avoid – by the House Republican leadership or caucus that followed.
The path of House leadership and sadly Senate leadership this year has been to preclude full public hearings and floor votes on these issues. The reason is singular. They know that the rank and file members support and will pass this legislation. The leadership cannot allow that. We can infer that leadership’s resistence is most probably due to financial support and reciprocal commitments to Big Business.
In 2012, this bill has been a news topic almost constantly. It has been hotly debated in every committee charged with considering it on the merits. On April 25, 2012, the bill was once again a hot topic. Channel 5 news interviewed McCormick. He said the 2nd Amendment is an important issue and needs to be balanced against property rights. He claimed, after a house calendar committee on which he served, voted to kill the bill by sending it to a non-existent “summer study” that it needed to be taken seriously. He did not tell the reporter that his caucus had met over the weekend and allegedly voted to avoid any recorded vote on this legislation. [That pronouncement however did not align well with emails and verbal assurances from many of the individual Republican caucus member.] He did not tell the reporter that he had established a task force within the caucus last year to study firearms issues – including this one – or that the task force was a mere sham. He did not tell the reporter of the extensive history of debate, testimony and study on this bill and sadly the reporter did not have either the knowledge or willingness to question him on his misleading statements. Sadly, McCormick’s statements are too similar to the statements surrounding the Christmas tree theft in the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when the Grinch was caught and needed to offer an excuse – even one devoid of the truth:
The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said “Cindy-Lou Who: Santy Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick. He thought up a lie, he thought it up quick!
Watch the Channel 5 video — if its still available.
The simple fact is that Republican leadership has represented to the voters that the “members” are opposed to the bill as it now exists because it is too broad. Really? If that is the case, bring it to the floor and let the members themselves amend it and pass it. Leadership will refuse to do that because they know with almost certainty that the rank and file members do support the bill and will enact it largely as is. The refusal of leadership to let this bill see the light of day on the respective floors for debate, amendment or votes tells the public volumes regarding the statements that have been made concerning where the legislators – all of them – are on this bill and who really are anti-2nd Amendment.