Press Releases

TFA: Harwell, ‘Shadow Operatives’ Avoid Firearms Legislation

Press release from Tennessee Firearms Association; Feb. 9, 2012:

House Leadership playing “Naifeh Style” maneuvers to kill bill?

There are at least 4 bills pending this year that address the issue of allowing handgun permit holders to commute to and from work without being disarmed by employer policies which blindly prohibit the employees from leaving a firearm secured in their vehicles. These bills include SB2061/HB2021 that remains pending from 2011. New bills this year include SB3002/HB3560 (the primary TFA bill), SB2941/HB3479 and SB3451/HB3660.

All of these bills deal with the exact same issue. All of these bills in the Senate are assigned to the Judiciary where historically firearms related bills are assigned.

Now, what has happened in the House is interesting and harkens back to Jimmy Naifeh’s creation of the “Constitutional Protections” subcommittee that he created specifically to kill firearms related legislation. In 2011, HB2021 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee by the Speaker’s office. That is where firearms bills are historically assigned in the House even though they usually would be further reassigned to one of 2 or 3 subcommittees of the Judiciary committee to start.

However, 2012 is a new year. It is a year in which House Republican leadership has made known to the rank and file caucus members that the leadership (Speaker Harwell and her task force of shadow operatives) do not want any firearms related legislation to surface in the House in 2012. Perhaps they blame it on the unfortunate arrest of Rep. Curry Todd on DUI and firearms possession charges last year after he successfully carried firearms legislation for many years. Perhaps they want to “lay low” on firearms legislation in an election year so that moderates and liberals might view them as “acceptable” candidates to vote for in the election. Perhaps they want to deprive election opponents of challenging whether or not these Republicans really are “good on the 2nd Amendment” as Speaker Harwell claims with increasingly less credibility to firearms owners.

Whatever the reason, a decision was made, perhaps intentionally, to depart from historical practices in the House Speaker’s office. This year, all of the Employee Safe Commute bills (except for HB2021 which was already in Judiciary) have been assigned by Harwell’s office to the House Committee on Consumer and Employee affairs. Everyone realizes that this committee has a long history of addressing firearms issues including this specific issue – Right! One could easily surmise that Harwell’s office intentionally sent this bill to that committee thinking or hoping that it would not get the attention that the House Judiciary normally has and that she would have a much greater chance of having the bill killed or gutted in the Consumer and Employee affairs committee or subcommittee than would otherwise be the case in the House Judiciary.

Of course, this could have been a legitmate decision to place the bills elsewhere thinking that an employee affairs committee would have more expertise than the committee (Judiciary) which has dealt with firearms legislation almost exclusively since at least 1994. Perhaps the Speaker was not aware that this is primarily a firearms related bill that impacts criminal prosecutions and the removal of infringements as required by the State and Federal Constitutions. Of course, the Speaker has been serving since the 96th General Assembly which gives her approximately 23 years of experience on committee assignments and perhaps this was a stroke of genius to realize that this bill deals more with employee affairs than it does with constitutional rights.

However, that same 23 years of experience may have also impressed on the Speaker’s office how her predecessors, such as Jimmy Naifeh, worked to kill bills in packed subcommittees without every having a representative floor vote where the voice of all legislators representing all citizens of the state could be heard on a topic so fundamental as the right to effective self-defense and the 2nd Amendment.

Membership in the House Employee and Consumer Affairs Committee and their profile links:

Committee Officers



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