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TFA Criticizes AG Opinion on the Possession of TANNERITE

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; February 11, 2015:

In the last week, the Tennessee Attorney General has issued an opinion (AG Opinion 15-12) that concludes that the civilian possession and use of even commercially available exploding target systems, specifically naming TANNERITE may constitute a criminal act in Tennessee relative to the civilian possession or manufacture of an explosive weapon.

The opinion states, in part:

You have asked about the applicability of Tennessee’s prohibitions against explosives to commercially available binary explosives such as Tannerite. Binary explosives are “pre-packaged products consisting of two separate components, usually an oxidizer like ammonium nitrate and a fuel such as aluminum or another metal.” Tannerite is an example of a commercially available binary explosive used to create exploding targets. It is sold in an unmixed condition and is designed to be mixed in a container and detonated by a rifle shot.

It is a criminal offense intentionally or knowingly to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell an explosive or an explosive weapon in Tennessee. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1302(a)(1). The term “explosive weapon” is defined to include “[a]ny sealed device containing dry ice or other chemically reactive substances for the purposes of causing an explosion by a chemical reaction.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1301(4)(B)(ii). The term “explosive” is not defined in Title 39 of the Code, but the Tennessee Supreme Court has defined it generally as “a chemical-type substance such as dynamite, nitroglycerin, or gunpowder” and as “a substance or combination of substances which, upon rapid decomposition or combustion, cause [sic] an explosion.” State v. McGouey, 229 S.W.3d 668, 673 n.1 (Tenn. 2007) (citing and quoting The Random House Dictionary of the English Language 681, 682 (2d ed. 1987); 31A AM. JUR. 2d Explosions and Explosives § 2 (2002)).

Unlike federal regulations and some other states’ provisions, Tennessee’s prohibition against the possession or manufacture of explosives does not contain an exception for personal recreational use. Cf. In re Joseph S., 698 N.W.2d 212, 226-27 (Neb. App. 2005) (noting that the possessor’s intent is irrelevant under Tennessee’s definition of explosive weapon). The statute does contain specific defenses for military or law-enforcement use, for use related to a lawful industrial or commercial enterprise, for dramatic performances and scientific research, and for display at museums. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1302(b). None of these defenses applies to an individual’s personal or recreational use of an explosive.

Products such as Tannerite have been commercially available and have been known to be inexpensively available for recreational entertainment of shooters at many gun shows and sporting goods dealers.

If you think that this is wrong or should be addressed, you should contact your legislators immediately to question this opinion and ask that they introduce legislation to allow the recreational use, possession and manufacture of explosive targets by civilians. Act quickly because the bill cutoff date if Thursday, February 12!!!

TFA: TN Gov’t Looking for More Oversight of Political Advocacy Groups

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 20, 2014:

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Division is attempting to reclassify political advocacy organizations as “charities” which would allow increased oversight into the operations of these organizations. It might also might be a pretext to obtain increased oversight and perhaps even for the basis to claim the authority to inspect the books of organizations critical of Governor Haslam and the state legislature. The Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Divisions issued a specific written demand in July that the Tennessee Firearms Association register as a “charity” even though the TFA does not act as a charity nor is it recognized as a 501(c)(3) charity by the IRS.

“This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to muzzle political opposition.” pointed out John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “If they can do this to the TFA, then they can do it to any other grassroots group. Who will be next?”

In a tactic similar to the recent federal IRS attacks on tea party groups, the Charitable Solicitations Division arbitrarily set a deadline of August 1 for the TFA to register as a “charity.” The timing of this is in line with the primary election cycle where the TFA and the affiliated TFA Legislative Action Committee played heavily in multiple state legislative elections.

“This is clearly a case of political retribution for targeting establishment politicians in the recent election cycle” Harris continued.

The Tennessee Firearms Association is a 501(c)4 organization under federal regulations and is not classified as a charitable organization by the IRS.

TFA: Gun Rights Advocates Have Successful 2014 Primary

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 9, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Firearms Associa(on played both a successful offense and defense in the August 8th primary elections. The TFA supported several pro-gun incumbent legislators who held their seats by a wide margin while also successfully supporting challengers against two incumbents with a history of opposing firearms legislation.

“The big government wing of the Republican Party lost the election in the grand scheme of things” observes John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “Legislators the TFA backed who staunchly support the right to keep and bear arms ended up retaining their seats while opponents of gun bills lost or nearly lost their seats. This success sends a strong reminder
that Tennesseans consider the right to keep and bear arms fundamental and gun issues cannot be ignored in legislative elections”

Two pro-gun legislators, Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Courtney Rogers, were challenged by candidates backed by the establishment. However the TFA support of Sen. Beavers and Rep. Rogers helped ensure they held their seats with wide margins.
TFA was also heavily involved in the challenge to 18-year incumbent Representative Charles Sargent by local entrepreneur Steve Gawrys. The race ended with Rep. Sargent almost losing his seat by a margin of 254 votes causing the election to likely face a recount. Political experts have noted that if Rep. Sargent ultimately ends up victorious in this race, he will probably not seek another term in 2016 after taking heavy damage to his credibility and electability this time.

Local high school teacher David Byrd in Waynesboro overthrew the embattled incumbent Representative Vance Dennis with the help of a TFA direct mail program. Representative Dennis worked behind the scenes at the Capitol to kill pro-gun bills.

Although TFA does not play in federal races, John Harris also commented that “The TN 4th Congressional race and the US Senate race both demonstrate the need for closed primaries and runoff elections in Tennessee”.

TFA Open Records Request Reveals Fiscal Note Process Manipulated on Open Carry

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 14, 2014:

Nashville, TN – After a series of ‘Open Records Requests’ the Tennessee Firearms Association has uncovered documented evidence of misleading statements and the falsifying of a contrived fiscal note. These questionable actions were carried out by members of the Haslam Administration during the 2014 legislative session in an attempt to kill a pro-gun bill.

“This was apparently a deliberate ploy to kill legislation that the Haslam Administration opposed by misrepresenting the effect of the bill to the legislators,” noted John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “Underhanded tactics such as this are unacceptable and Governor Haslam owes the citizens of Tennessee an explanation.”

The fiscal note fiasco started earlier this year when Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Micah Van Huss sponsored legislation to allow the open carry of handguns without a permit. The bill passed the Senate 25-2 (SB2424), despite behind the scenes opposition from the Haslam Administration. As the open carry bill moved through the House after passing in the Senate, it was delayed and then voted down in a Finance Sub-Committee after having a false fiscal note attached. The full House of Representative never considered the bill because of the shenanigans involving the false fiscal note in House Finance.

The fiscal note, added by the Administration, claimed that the open carry bill would cost the state government $100,000 by requiring that the word “concealed” be added to every valid handgun permit in Tennessee. However, the bill itself contained no such requirement. When pressed, the Department of Safety responded that departmental policy required adding the word “concealed” to the permits. However, when a request was made for the specific policy, the Department of Safety admitted that no such policy actually existed.

Almost 3,000 pages of state documents obtained by the Tennessee Firearms Association through the Open Records Requests reveal that a Haslam administration official, Bill Hedge, citing the non-existent “departmental policy” on behalf of the Tennessee Department of Safety, estimated that it would cost the State $100,000 to add the word “concealed” when handgun permits are printed. The administration’s estimate caused a “fiscal note” to be placed on the legislation and forced it to be rerouted to the House Finance Committee which is under the control of Rep. Charles Sargent.

After a legislative amendment (HA1127) was introduced to prohibit the Administration’s proposal to add the word “concealed” on each permit, Mr. Hedge defiantly declared in an April 8, 2014, e-mail that:

“Even though the amendment removed the requirement, the department by policy will in fact continue the designation of ‘Concealed’ on the Handgun Carry Permit….I am certifying that the department will in fact incur the (costs) to reflect the ‘concealed’ provision….”

Further, when pressed concerning which department policy required such a change, the Department of Safety admitted that it had misrepresented that there was an existing departmental policy as reflecting in an e-mail from Bill Hedge dated April 14, 2014:

“Currently, a written policy concerning information contained on the permit, including the ‘title’ of the document, does not exist.”

More significantly, the Open Records Requests revealed that the Department of Safety is under a multi-million dollar contract with a third party, L-1 Credentialing, Inc., to design and print the handgun permits along with other similar official state documents. That contract requires the third party to make changes in the design and format of the permits at no additional charge to state government. Department of Safety documents do not reference this contract in discussing the $100,000 estimate by Hedge nor do they detail why it would cost $100,000 to print the word “concealed” on the handgun permits even after the proposed legislation it was made clear by the sponsors that the legislation did not alter the handgun permits or convert them into concealed carry permits. The documents also reveal that the Haslam Administration was actively fighting the bill, that Department of Safety officials were working to stop the bill by creating estimates of printing costs, and that certain legislators were involved to create a fiscal note ensuring that the bill was rerouted to the House Finance Committee.

After the false Administration estimate was attached to the bill as a fiscal note, House rules required that the bill be considered by Charles Sargent’s Finance Committee because it had a (falsely) estimated cost to state government. Bill Gibbons, Commissioner of the Department of Safety, testified under oath that the legislation would add a concealment requirement to Tennessee’s handgun permits and that it would cost approximately $100,000 to start printing the word “concealed” on the handgun permits. The documents obtained in response to the Open Records Requests suggest that Commissioner Gibbons’ sworn testimony to the House Finance subcommittee was false in both respects. Mr. Gibbons’ testimony can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_jeeCqS-VU

Legislative records indicate that the House Finance subcommittee knew that Gibbons’ testimony was false or misleading because the chairman announced just prior to the committee vote that they would assume a zero fiscal impact to the state for purposes of their votes on the legislation. Then, 10 members of the House Finance committee refused to allow the legislation to be moved forward thus prohibiting it from consideration by all members of the House of Representatives.

A complete and detailed write up, including source documents, will be available on the TFA web site soon: http://www.tennesseefirearms.org/news/item/10-fiscal-note-fiasco

The Tennessee Firearms Association was founded in 1995 and formed to defend the right to keep and bear arms in Tennessee. The TFA is Tennessee’s only no-compromise gun group.

TFA Releases 2014 State Candidate Survey Results

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 1, 2014: 

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Firearms Association has released the results of their 2014 state candidate survey today. The survey consists of 26 questions on Second Amendment issues, including Constitutional Carry and Safe Commute, as well as striking down federal law that violate the Tenth Amendment. The survey was sent to every candidate running for state legislative office in the August 7th primary election.

“Our goal was simply to ask candidates where they stand on the right to keep and bear arms and then to make that information available to the voters for their use when voting” said John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “Candidates who refused to take a stand by not returning their survey will be judged by the pro- Second Amendment voters in their district.”

The survey also includes a Leadership Pledge allowing candidates to state on the record that they would not endorse other candidates who are anti-gun, would not vote for leadership who is anti-gun, would work towards a recorded floor vote on firearms legislation, and would work to make caucus meetings open to the public.

Every candidate who returned their survey has their answers posted on the TFA website. Representatives Vance Dennis and Josh Evans informed the TFA that they refused to return their completed survey. Representative Charles Sargent promised in a public meeting to return his survey but then refused to do so. Candidate Clark Boyd, who is challenging Senator Mae Beavers, also told TFA he would be returning his survey but did not.

The answers from each candidate can be viewed here: http://www.tennesseefirearms.org/news/item/7-2014-candidate-survey-results

TFA: Beavers Files Amendments to Address “Problems” With Safe Commute Law

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; February 3, 2013:

Nashville, TN – Gun rights bulwark Senator Mae Beavers has filed amendments to be addressed on the Senate Floor to address problems in the current law regarding a law passed in 2013 regarding handgun permit holders who commute to work and their right to store legally owned firearms in personal vehicles.

The amendments, which have been filed on Senate Bills 1700 and 1701, will allow workers in Tennessee to safely commute to work with a firearm in their vehicle without fear of either criminal prosecution or termination of employment. While Senator Mark Green’s bills (SB1700 and SB1701) are a step in the right direction, they do not adequately address the legal confusion surrounding the 2013 law. In addition, SB1700 and SB1701 do not prevent employers from firing employees who store personal items in personal vehicles.

Senator Beavers’ amendments would fix all the problems with the 2013 law, which was pushed through by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey even with notice of serious flaws. Senator Beavers’ amendments are intended to ensure that law abiding Tennessee firearms owners are protected while transporting firearms in their vehicles to and from work.

Senator Beavers’ amendments would provide that a citizen can store any item that he or she legally possesses, including a firearm, in any vehicle (other than an employer provided vehicle) that the citizen legally possesses. It is a simple clarification of Tennessee’s “castle doctrine” which equates the personal vehicle with the personal residence.

This type of change is necessary because current law does not fully protect employees from criminal prosecution nor does it provide any protection from losing their jobs if their vehicle contains an item they lawfully possess, especially a firearm. The Tennessee Attorney General issued an opinion (13-41) noting that the 2013 “parking lot” law did not actually protect lawful possession of a firearm from criminal prosecution or termination of employment.

Recently, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s office directed legislative staff lawyers to manufacture a legal opinion that stated exactly the opposite. The Tennessee Firearms Association understands the opinion from the Lieutenant Governor’s staff lawyers is faulty because testimony of the House bill sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Faison, disagrees with their conclusion regarding legislative intent. During testimony last year, Representative Jeremy Faison stated that the bill does not protect employees from termination or criminal prosecution, and that it was not the intent of the bill sponsor to do so. See statements of Rep. Faison in committee regarding HB118 on Feb 20, 2013.

In addition, approximately ten amendments were offered in 2013 on the House Floor by Representatives Mark Pody and John Mark Windle to address the serious and obvious flaws in the 2013 legislation before it was enacted. House leadership prohibited any of those amendments from being addressed on the merits. The defeat of these 2013 House floor amendments are evidence that the legislature knew of these flaws in the Ramsey legislation but did not take corrective action.

Even though the Tennessee Firearms Association discounts the opinion issued by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s lawyers, the fact that two divergent legal opinions exist on the 2013 law shows that significant confusion in the law must be addressed. Indeed, the confusion may be so significant that the 2013 law could be unconstitutionally vague.

This issue is not just about firearms however, as the rights of law abiding citizens to store items that they are lawfully allowed to possess in their vehicles while at work have also come into question. In 2012, a representative from Federal Express testified in the Senate Judiciary hearings on the same topic that they were able to fire employees for the mere possession of a Bible in their vehicle while parked on Federal Express property.

The Tennessee Firearms Association would have preferred that the problems with the 2013 law had been fully considered and discussed in the Senate Judiciary before these issues were sent to the Senate Floor. However, Senator Beavers’ bill (SB1733) and potentially other bills on this topic were not even considered or discussed by the Senate Judiciary when it took up this issue.

“Any vote against Senator Beavers’ amendment must be considered carefully as a vote against the Second Amendment, fundamental constitutional principles and the life safety of citizens, even if it is only a procedural vote,” said John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “Former Representative Debra Maggart was ousted from office by a huge margin due in part to her continual partisan efforts to block good Second Amendment legislation and impairing the rights of citizens to protect their families and lives. It is important to address these core constitutional and life safety issues carefully when they are raised.”

TFA: ATF Delaying ‘Civilian Firearms Transfers’?

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 10, 2013:

ATF – servicing the government but ignoring the 2nd Amendment

There are conflicting and unconfirmed reports circulating on the Internet regarding the ATF and whether it will be shutdown, insofar as civilian firearms transfers are concerned, during the partial, if no de minimis, government shutdown. These reports seem to co-exist with the confirmed reports of other government agents banning civilian access to parks and even parts of the ocean.

As stated in U.S. Department of Justice document dated Sept. 30, 2013:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): As a Presidential Appointee, the Director is not subject to furlough. Excepted employees include: all agents in ATF’s field divisions, who conduct the full range of criminal investigations in the firearms, arson, explosives, alcohol and tobacco program areas; Industry Operations Investigators who conduct compliance inspections of Federal firearms and Federal explosives licensees (including those mandated under the Safe Explosives Act), as well as application inspections; and other personnel who collect, review and analyze intelligence data in support of criminal investigations. Headquarters support will be maintained only to the extent necessary to support excepted operations.

National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that “… it should be noted that staffing in the Federal Firearms Licensing Center, Imports Branch and NFA Branch has been reduced, though 83% of ATF personnel remain on the job. The customer service operations staffing is some of the 17% who have been reduced.”

Other sites are reporting that ATF activities involving the processing of civilian forms for National Firearms Act activities are or will be suspended. These forms impact the transfer or manufacture of short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns and machine guns but only to the extent that they involve civilians. ATF apparently will continue to process forms for government agencies and agents.

What do you expect from a government that uses force to block veterans and civilians from access an open, public area that historically is available to the public 24/7 with no access restrictions?

While this shutdown may be temporary, it will predictably multiply the length of the delays that can be expected when operational funding resumes.

This is just another example of why its critical for citizens across Tennessee and other states to work to restore true effect to the phrase “shall not be infringed”. If your access to weapons that your right to own and acquire is guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment can be “infringed” simply because the government views those rights as subject to regulation by it and because its categorized even then as “non essential”, then something is seriously wrong.

TFA: Haslam Wrong that Federal Shut Down Affects Gun Permit Issuance

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 1, 2013:

The Federal Government’s Partial Shutdown and its Impact on Tennessee Handgun Permits

The federal government is now under a partial and likely temporary shutdown of “non-essential” services. Governor Haslam’s administration is reportedly stating that “the issuance of handgun permits . . . would be affected due to required background checks, according to the administration.”

TFA’s review of the handgun permit statute suggests that as a matter of state law there can and should be no delays whatsoever to that process unless its an intentional decision by state government to delay on the excuse of the partial federal shutdown.

It is important for those concerned about this issue to pay attention to the language of the statute which establishes the procedure for issuing (and renewing) handgun permits and not necessarily to rely on statements from Governor Haslam.

The statute in question is Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351. Although the statutory language is set forth below, it is important to note that the state of Tennessee is required to issue the permit within 90 days of the date of application even if the FBI never responds (subsection (i)). Actually, there is not a single provision in the Tennessee statute which even requires the state to delay the issuance of the permit while waiting on any federal agency to respond. Any representation by the administration that the issuance or renewals of permits might be delayed by the federal partial government shutdown is not supported – even remotely – by state law.

What Governor Haslam’s statement does evidence is an unacceptable belief that Tennessee government and other state governments are somehow subordinate to the federal government and totally reliant on its existence not just for funds but apparently for matters such as the issuance of handgun permits to citizens. It is this type of philosophy and perception of the proper role between and among the citizens, the states and the federal government that is a cancer to our Republic, to state sovereignty and to the rights of citizens. It is critical that citizens understand this and that they be ever watchful for this diseased mental process to surface so that it can be corrected by citizen pressure and if not corrected swiftly that those so infected can be removed from the stewardship of government service as swiftly as possible.

TCA 39-17-1351

(g) (1) Upon receipt of a permit application, the department shall: (A) Forward two (2) full sets of fingerprints of the applicant to the Tennessee bureau of investigation; and (B) Send a copy of the application to the sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides.

(2) Within thirty (30) days of receiving an application, the sheriff shall provide the department with any information concerning the truthfulness of the applicant’s answers to the eligibility requirements of subsection (c) that is within the knowledge of the sheriff.

(h) Upon receipt of the fingerprints from the department, the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall:

(1) Within thirty (30) days from receipt of the fingerprints, conduct computer searches to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a permit under subsection (c) as are available to the bureau based solely upon the applicant’s name, date of birth and social security number and send the results of the searches to the department;

(2) Conduct a criminal history record check based upon one (1) set of the fingerprints received and send the results to the department; and

(3) Send one (1) set of the fingerprints received from the department to the federal bureau of investigation, request a federal criminal history record check based upon the fingerprints, as long as the service is available, and send the results of the check to the department.

(i) The department shall deny a permit application if it determines from information contained in the criminal history record checks conducted by the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation pursuant to subsection (h), from information received from the clerks of court regarding individuals adjudicated as a mental defective or judicially committed to a mental institution pursuant to title 33, or from other information that comes to the attention of the department, that the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements of this section. The department shall not be required to confirm the applicant’s eligibility for a permit beyond the information received from the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation, the clerks of court and the sheriffs, if any.

(j) The department shall not deny a permit application if: (1) The existence of any arrest or other records concerning the applicant for any indictment, charge or warrant have been judicially or administratively expunged; or (2) An applicant’s conviction has been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction; or (3) The applicant, who was rendered infamous or deprived of the rights of citizenship by judgment of any state or federal court, has had the applicant’s full rights of citizenship duly restored pursuant to procedures set forth within title 40, chapter 29, or other federal or state law; provided, however, that this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply to any person who has been convicted of burglary, any felony offense involving violence or use of a firearm or any felony drug offense involving a Schedule I, II, III, IV or V controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue. If the applicant has been convicted of a felony drug offense involving a Schedule VI controlled substance, this subdivision (j)(3) shall not apply if the offense occurred within ten (10) years of the date of application or renewal.

(k) If the department denies an application, the department shall notify the applicant in writing within ten (10) days of the denial. The written notice shall state the specific factual basis for the denial. It shall include a copy of any reports, records or inquiries reviewed or relied upon by the department.

(l) The department shall issue a permit to an applicant not prohibited from obtaining a permit under this section no later than ninety (90) days after the date the department receives the application. A permit issued prior to the department’s receipt of the Tennessee and federal bureaus of investigation’s criminal history record checks based upon the applicant’s fingerprints shall be subject to immediate revocation if either record check reveals that the applicant is not eligible for a permit pursuant to the provisions of this section.

TFA Accuses ‘Establishment’ GOP of Dismantling TN Constitution

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; March 19, 2013:

Tennessee Constitution under full attack by Establishment Republicans…

Increasingly, the evidence is coming into the “sunshine” that Establishment Republicans, like Haslam, Ramsey and Harwell, are working hard to impair, infringe or destroy our rights as citizens under the Tennessee and united states Constitutions. This attack is not limited to their assault on the 2nd Amendment or the 10th Amendment.

We have seen laws passed with the fanfare of these Establishment Republicans that reduce your ability to get reasonably compensated if you are injured or die in a job related accident – and more are pending. We have seen laws passed that impose serious limits on what a jury or a judge can award as factual damages if you are injured – thereby violating the constitutional separation of powers. We have seen laws passed that provide special protections to the Establishment Republican’s “masters” in insurance and medical fields but which do not apply equally to all citizens (i.e., due process violations). We have seen laws passed merely because of political correctness which violate the fundamental right of freewill.

We have seen issues arise such as Sen. Beavers’ and Rep. Butt’s bill under the 10th and 2nd Amendments to push back on the federal government but those bills were resisted at the apparent mandate of leadership through the “mouth” of leadership loyalists like Sen. Brian Kelsey and Sen. John Stevens or Rep. Vance Dennis. We can not let it be forgotten that legislators like Kelsey, Stevens, Overbey, Dennis and others would rather surrender all rights under the constitutions than to draw a line in the sand as a matter of state sovereignty and tell the federal government – which is our servant – NO MORE.

Last week, we have seen yet another Establishment Republican / RINO leadership attack on our rights. The attack comes in the form of SJR2. SJR2 is a move by Establishment Republicans to deny us as citizens our rights to elect – truly elect – our appellate and Supreme Court judges in Tennessee pursuant to the plain language of the Constitution. This is CRITICAL because if the legislature and the governor have in fact turned against us and our rights under the Bill of Rights then it may be that the courts – as the checks and balances against the other two branches of government – will become the battleground for protecting our rights under the Constitution. For that option to be effective, courts, as the Founders intended, should be accountable to the people through the election process. Establishment Republicans seek to destroy the separation of powers and change the constitution so that the courts – the third co-equal branch – are selected and appointed by the governor and the legislature rather than the people. If so, then to whom do YOU think the courts will be accountable when there are constitutional challenges to the acts of the governor or the legislature?

When SJR2 was on the House floor last Thursday, several Republicans (not in leadership) wanted to speak against the evil plan to destroy yet more rights of the citizens. Here is the report of Rep. Courtney Rogers who was prepared to speak against destroying the rights of the people to select the third branch of government:

On the House Floor:

Last update I wrote about SJR2, the resolution that proposes to make a new method of judicial selection constitutional that still deprives you of your right to vote for your supreme and inferior court justices. I concede that it is better than what is in place now — because it does transfer the power of selection from a committee that is entirely unaccountable to you, directly to both the Governor (power of appointment) and the legislature (power of confirmation). My objection is that it consolidates more power in the hands of government rather than restoring that power to yours. Why do I write about this again? I am doing so because of what transpired on the house floor when SJR2 was introduced for its third and final reading. The significance of the third reading is that this is when a proposed constitutional amendment is discussed and then voted on. It must pass by a two-thirds vote — to be placed on the ballot to be voted on by the people to accept or reject. We spent nearly 30 minutes on the floor debating whether a license plate should be illuminated or not when your headlights are on. When SJR2 was brought up, there were literally two seconds from introduction to the slam of the gavel. There was absolutely no discussion on an issue of this level of importance. I was going to speak from a different view — not the view of the legal community, which is very much heard in the halls downtown, but from the view of an average citizen — which is heard not so much. Rep. Rick Womick had also planned to speak. We both had our hands up — I stood up — even shouted, but the gavel beat me. It was like the Geico commercial where Mutombo (from the Congo that last played for the Houston Rockets), slams a box of cereal out of the hands of the kid trying to throw it in the shopping cart and then waves his finger at him. Whether the house majority agrees or disagrees — whether you agree or disagree with the amendment is not the issue at present. You should insist that thoughtful deliberation on issues such as this be permitted — regardless as to whether or not the ‘votes are there’ or regardless as to how much time could be saved. Intent can neither be confirmed nor denied (i.e. did they not want discussion for fear it wouldn’t pass?) — so I must stick with fact. The fact is, no discussion was permitted. I find it entirely unacceptable — as should you.

Each legislator has an equal vote, an equal right to be heard, to oppose, to support, to amend and to debate on any legislation on the floor. However, with Republican Super Majorities, those who would stand to support and defend the rights of the citizens against the nefarious desires of Establishment Republican leadership are discouraged or disallowed from speaking. They are intimidated by their party leadership. They are taken to the “woodshed.” They are called “fringe.” The interests of their constituents are ignored, suppressed and marginalized. Those citizens and districts which have elected constitutional conservatives are essentially disenfranchised as citizens by leadership.

To preserve and protect the Constitution —

Haslam must be reformed or he must go.

Ramsey must be reformed or he must go.

Harwell must be reformed or she must go.

Finally, we must “de-select” many incumbents who gladly drink the Kool-Aid of the Establishment Republicans and replace those who put “party first” with constitutional stewards who will put the constitutions and the people ahead of the “cocaine” offered to them in the context of partisan position and perceived power by the existing leadership of the Establishment Republican party.

TFA: Haslam Signs ‘Dangerous’ Safe Commute Bill Into Law

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; March 15, 2013:

Governor Bill Haslam signed into law on March 15, 2013, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s SB142 (House sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison HB0118). This bill is a travesty and misrepresentation to the citizens of Tennessee.

It is a travesty because (not an exclusive list)

– it does not remove all risk of criminal prosecution;

– it does not protect the employee’s job from termination if the employee complies with the law;

– it is extremely limited to a “permit holder’s own vehicle” which could put at risk those permit holders who carpool, rent cars, lease cars, borrow cars, have courtesy cars, have “company cars”, or anyone else whose name is not on the title!

First, despite what Ron Ramsey has claimed, the soon to be law does not remove all risk of criminal prosecution. There are at least two statutes (TCA 39-17-1314 and the criminal trespass statute and possibly others) where criminal prosecution still is available. In addition, if prosecution arises, your weapon(s) will be subject to mandatory forfeiture (TCA 39-17-1359). It addition those who are not the “owner” of the car, could be criminally prosecuted.

Second, despite what Ron Ramsey claimed, the soon to be law does not protect the employees’ jobs, health care or even the ability to apply for unemployment. With whatever respect is due, Ramsey’s assertions do demonstrate that he does not comprehend the basis of Tennessee’s employment at will doctrine. It is clear, as Rep. Faison testified in committee that the employer is a full liberty to fire any employee who violates a “no weapons” employment policy.

It is very curious that on March 14, 2013, Lt. Gov. Ramsey and 4 other Senators (including Jim Tracey who is wanting to run for Congress) signed and sent a letter (attached hereto) to the Senate Clerk asking that the legislative history be clarified by stating their intent (contrary to the House Sponsor) that employers would not be able to terminate employees and that if the employers did so that the terminate employees could sue for wrongful termination. That letter evidences that none of those five senators really understands the employment at will doctrine. Drinking is legal under the law, but you can be fired if the employer has a no alcohol policy. Smoking is legal under the law, but you can be fired if there is a no smoking policy. Supporting a particular political party is legal under the law, but you can be fired from private employment for voting for the wrong party. Ramsey is either clueless on the current law or is intentionally misrepresenting it.

Once again, Ramsey is reckless with the rights of citizens. While he claims a fired employee could sue, he makes no reference to the fact that under Public Chapter 1046 passed by the Establishment Republicans in 2012 that if you did sue and you lost (which is practically certain under Tennessee’s employment at will doctrine) that the trial court shall award to the employer up to $10,000 in court costs, deposition costs, attorney’s fees and other expenses. [Once again, evidence that the Establishment Republicans in Tennessee are destroying your constitutional rights].

Pelosi said that they had to pass Obamacare so that we would know what is in it. Ramsey is worse. The Establishment Republicans are worse. Haslam is worse. We told them what was wrong with Ramsey and Faison’s bill and they passed it anyway!!! Then they misrepresent what it does and does not do!!!

About the only thing this bill does positively is to provide a voting record of those legislators who have willfully made a choice on the 2nd Amendment that puts the jobs of Tennessee’s handgun permit holders at risk.

Senate Vote on SB0142

Ayes………………………………………..28
Noes…………………………………………5

Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Campfield, Crowe, Dickerson, Finney L, Ford, Gardenhire, Green, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Stevens, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey — 28.

Senators voting no were: Burks, Harper, Henry, Kyle, Tate — 5.

House Votes on HB0118

Ayes………………………………………..72
Noes………………………………………..22

Representatives voting aye were: Alexander, Brooks H, Brooks K, Butt, Calfee, Carr D, Carter, Casada, Coley, Curtiss, Dean, DeBerry J, Dennis, Doss, Dunn, Durham, Eldridge, Evans, Faison, Floyd, Forgety, Goins, Halford, Hall, Harrison, Hawk, Haynes, Hill M, Hill T, Holt, Johnson C, Kane, Keisling, Lamberth, Littleton, Lollar, Lundberg, Lynn, Marsh, Matheny, Matlock, McCormick, McDaniel, McManus, Moody, Pitts, Pody, Powers, Ragan, Ramsey, Rich, Rogers, Sanderson, Sargent, Sexton, Shepard, Shipley, Sparks, Swann, Tidwell, Travis, Van Huss, Watson, Weaver, White D, White M, Williams K, Williams R, Windle, Wirgau, Womick, Madam Speaker Harwell — 72.

Representatives voting no were: Armstrong, Camper, Cooper, DeBerry L, Favors, Fitzhugh, Gilmore, Hardaway, Jernigan, Johnson G, Jones, Love, Miller, Mitchell, Odom, Parkinson, Powell, Shaw, Stewart, Towns, Turner J, Turner M — 22.