Newsletter from the Tennessee Firearms Association; June 13, 2012:
Republican legislative leaders in an election cycle are rewriting history because they must if the claim to be pro 2nd Amendment
The most discussed legislation on the 2nd Amendment horizon in the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions was the Safe Commute Act which the Republican leaders intentional killed this year. Now that the session is over, Republican leaders in the General Assembly are claiming that the bill was stopped because of too much pressure from the Tennessee Firearms Association. That is a very interesting position, some might say spin, for them to take.
First, the Republican leadership’s assertion raises the question of whether the Republican leaders in the General Assembly decided to terminate a bill that otherwise had merit solely in retaliation against a grassroots organization for pushing in a manner that the legislators characterize as too hard. Can that be? Did they decide on the bill not on its merits but in retaliation? If so, then it could be argued that none are really qualified to serve as stewards of the Constitution or as guardians for the rights of the citizens if they have handled legislation not as stewards of a Republic form of government but as self-perceived masters who have absolute discretion to dole out or kill legislation as nothing more than favors from the king.
Second and equally important, it is necessary to look at certain facts to see if these assertions by Republican leadership are in fact true, which is self-damning in that case, or if they are misrepresentations of the facts in an effort to “blame Bush” for something that they themselves should admit was their own decision.
Since Republican leaders are claiming that the bill would have come to the floor but for TFA’s push, then it is necessary to examine that claim for factual integrity. Such an examination will reveal evidence that the Republican leadership had premeditated as early as 2011 that this legislation – the Safe Commute act – would never see the sunshine of a floor vote.
First, it has been reported numerous times that Debra Maggart told TFA in the summer of 2011 that she did not want any 2nd Amendment legislation in the 2012 session because it was an election year and she felt that such legislation would potentially hurt the chances of the Republican party to get 66 or more seats (and from more recent statements we might also conclude that she felt it would hurt the incumbents – like herself – if there were primary races).
Second, we saw that the declaration in July 2011 by Rep. Gerald McCormick that he had formed a Republican Caucus Firearms Task Force to study firearms issues prior to the 2012 session. Soon thereafter, he announced the termination of that caucus task force and then within a few days its re-establishment. Keep in mind that Rep. McCormick announced this task force after 33 House Republicans fell on partisan leadership swords and voted on the House Floor against the Safe Commute law in 2011 which quickly sent the bill back to committee rather than risk a confused floor vote after that much damage had been done. Now, history shows that the task force never gave notice of a public meeting, it met for only about 30 minutes and it issued no reports that were ever made public. Not once during the 2012 legislative cycle was any reference made to legislation coming out of the Republican task force nor was any task force report used in any open committee meeting to report for or against proposed legislation. It was nothing more than political “candy” being passed out by Rep. McCormick with no true intent to perform – something the law might call “promissory fraud” but since a politican did it it might simply be called a “standard characteristic”.
Now, we see a press release being issued from Richard Archie. For purposes of full disclosure, Mr. Archie is the West Tennessee Director of TFA. However, he is also a leader in the Tea Party movement and a regular invited talk radio personality covering roughly 22 counties in West Tennessee. The following report comes from his involvement in meetings with legislators in the context of Tea Party meetings – not TFA meetings.
It has been suggested that the failure of the Employee Safe Commute Act in the second half of the 107th General Assembly can be laid at the feet of the TFA due to the “over the top” rhetoric put forth by the group, more especially the e-mail sent by John Harris on April 24th, 2012 which was after a “Secret” caucus meeting and vote to decide if the People’s House should take up the bill after it was voted out of committee in the House. It is apparent that Leadership had decided long before that event that the bill would not see the light of day.
At the Tennessee Tea Party Leader’s Summit held in Nashville January 6th, 2012, I was in conversation with Senators Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy regarding the “Parking Lot Bill” as sponsored the previous year by Representative Josh Evans in the House, and Senator Stacy Campfield in the Senate. After a long and exhaustive conversation with Rep. Evans, he informed me that he would put his bill “On Notice” in the House, in its original form, if we could initiate movement on the issue in the Senate. Senator Ketron informed me that night, that it was his understanding that there would be no actions regarding firearms issues to come forth out of the House at the direction of the Speaker. This is substantiated by his being quoted in the TNReport Jan 03, 2012 as quoted from the article:
“Lawmakers talked about but never passed a number of gun bills proposed last year, including letting handgun carry permit holders lock their weapons inside their car while at work, HB2021, which made it to the House floor but never came up for a vote. Another bill, HB2016, would let college faculty and staff carry guns on campus, although that measure never made it out of committee. Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle say they expect to see those issues introduced but probably sidelined this year. “Being an election year, I don’t see leadership letting that come to the surface,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, the Senate Republican Caucus Chairman from Murfreesboro.
Attempting to lay the aversion to firearms issues to the actions of the TFA is rebutted in the following pronouncements by Leadership.
November 30, 2011 quote from the article:
“The chairwoman of the house Republican caucus (Debra Maggart) states in part, “Second amendment issues will always be on our agenda. Our main priority has been and will continue to be finding ways to encourage job creation in the private sector.”
From the article December 21, 2011:
“While the Senate wants to pursue a bill to allow carry permit holders to leave their guns in their workplace parking lots, House leaders said guns won’t be a priority.
“I think our focus will not be on gun issues, it will be on economic development and jobs, job creation,” said Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga.
It is patently obvious that those in power had no intention of allowing a fair hearing of the Employee Safe Commute Act in the legislature, and, even thought the issue DID pass the vetting process of the committee system in both the House and Senate, those who chose to exert their ability to deny the Citizens their rights under the Constitution prevailed.
The frustration of firearms owners can be understood, when referenced to the misinformation that has accorded them by current Leadership of the General Assembly with respect to this specific issue. Quoting Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey from a statement he made April 28, 2011: “A gun permit holder should be able to take his gun and leave it in his locked automobile when he goes to work.” http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=58222, Compare his 2011 statement against his statement April 24, 2012 Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Rep. Beth Harwell, have indicated they’re uncomfortable with the legislation, worrying the bills infringe upon the rights of employers to control what happens on their own property. http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/04/24/lawmakers-jockeying-on-guns-in-lots-legislation/.
Indeed, news reports from other sources, such as TNReport.com chronical regular and recurring statements from Republican leadership evidencing that they had no intent to let any 2nd Amendment issues come to a floor vote in 2012. Consider, as an example, again the TNReport that Mr. Archie referenced above:
Leftovers on Menu for New Legislative Year
by Andrea Zelinski on January 3, 2012
Guns on Campus, In Employee Parking Lots
Lawmakers talked about but never passed a number of gun bills proposed last year, including letting handgun carry permit holders lock their weapons inside their car while at work, HB2021, which made it to the House floor but never came up for a vote. Another bill, HB2016, would let college faculty and staff carry guns on campus, although that measure never made it out of committee. Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle say they expect to see those issues introduced but probably sidelined this year. “Being an election year, I don’t see leadership letting that come to the surface,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, the Senate Republican Caucus Chairman from Murfreesboro.
Also, see a report in October 2011 by Knoxnews.com
Political notebook: Gun bills still on legislative agenda — or not
By Tom Humphrey Posted October 15, 2011 at 4 a.m.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, who set up the Republican Firearms Task Force in July, says he may now disband it. At the time, McCormick said he believed the economy would be rebounding, but that appears not to be the case now.
The chairman of the task force, Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville, resigned the post this week after his arrest on charges of drunken driving and illegal possession of a firearm. McCormick said that is not the reason for de-emphasizing gun legislation.
“I was really hoping the economy would be roaring back by now, and it’s not,” McCormick told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. “I think people want us to focus more on economic development and jobs and leave some of the other issues to the side for the time being.”
“This is a timely opportunity to do that [disband it] with the gun task force,” he said. “I don’t think we need to push those issues right now.”
The preponderance of the evidence before the public is that the Republican leaders in the General Assembly, Rep. Maggart, Rep. McCormick, Speaker Harwell and quite likely even Lt. Gov. Ramsey all treated the 2nd Amendment not as a constitutional issue over the last 4 years but merely as a partisan issue. They apparently saw it as nothing more than an “issue” that had partisan important to be used or suppressed in the calculation of what was most politically expedient to increase the number of seats held by Republicans as opposed to a Constitutional issue that impacts the very capacity of citizens to provide for their own self defense.
More recently, we see news reports where Republican leaders like Maggart and McCormick are claiming that their number one job is to re-elect incumbents – nothing more than a heightened partisan role. In a TNReport.com news report dated June 1, 2012, where her “partisan first” and “incumbent first” mentalities are highlighted:
Tennessee Republicans are looking to tighten their grip on state government in the Nov. 6 general election by winning an even larger legislative majority than they’ve enjoyed the last two years.
But party leaders, particularly in the House, say a first priority is to ensure that members of their caucus survive challenges in the Aug. 2 primary.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart both say incumbents winning primaries is a prime concern. In McCormick’s words, incumbents deserve to be “rewarded on election day” for responsibly governing since they began dominating state politics two years ago.
* * *
Maggart sees it as her unwavering responsibility to ensure sitting lawmakers get their jobs back next year. And she faces her own tough re-election challenge against Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.
Supporting a candidate can mean everything from political donations from individual lawmakers or the well-funded House GOP Caucus, appearances from high-ranking lawmakers such as Speaker Beth Harwell and even coming out to knock on doors or work political fundraisers.
“My job is to bring the incumbents back,” Maggart told TNReport. “That’s our job — my job — as the caucus leader.”
Now that we have caught the Republican leadership putting partisan objectives ahead of their oaths, the Constitution and their stewardship, we hear them claim “we stopped the bill because TFA pushed to hard.” Retaliation is admitted but apparently they did not see that when the claim was made.
We also see, just as Maggart and McCormick told TNReport.com, other incumbents including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Governor Haslam running to aid the campaigns of those incumbents who think that they are “entitled” to be re-elected, such as Debra Maggart, as simply more evidence of the “incumbent protection” mentality that puts their personal objectives and thirst for power ahead of their fundamental duty of stewardship and constitutional accountability.