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TFA Still Hunting Victory in Legislative Fight Over Gun Bills

Newsletter from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 9, 2012:

HB3560 – On Calendar for Tuesday, April 10

The House version of the Employee Safe Commute bill (HB3560) and its companion HB3559 are on calendar for Tuesday, April 10, at 8:00 am CST in the House Employee and Consumer Affairs committee. We are expecting to see the bill pushed through the subcommittee on a voice vote. That is what we are told to expect but the committee may do otherwise.

We had been told that the bill would then be heard in the full committee of House Employee and Consumer Affairs on the same day at 10:30 am. However, some question has arisen regarding whether the rules have been suspended already so that this can be done or whether the standard 48 hour notice would be required. TFA and NRA have asked Committee Chair Jimmy Eldridge to move on the House Floor tonight to suspend the rules so that these bills can both be heard tomorrow. If we are successful in having that motion made by Rep. Eldridge, the floor vote tonight could shed light on the strength of the bills once they get to the floor.

Senate Bill – SB3002

Last Thursday, news reports surfaced quoting Speaker Beth Harwell that she had been told by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that the bill (SB3002) on the Employee Safe Commute issue is already “dead” in the Senate. That was a telling and some might say unexpected disclosure from “Mt. Olympus” since the bill had passed Senate Judiciary on March 27 on a vote of 6 to 1 with 2 present and not voting (“Obama legislating”). The bill should have been scheduled already to be heard in Senate Calendar and Rules to be calendared for the Senate floor, but it is no where to be found on an upcoming calendar.

Apparently, either Lt. Gov. Ramsey expected the bill to see troubled waters in the Calendar and Rules committee and/or he knew that someone with enough power to do so was working to stop the bill in its tracks on the Senate side. Now who, one might ask, would be up to that?

Some might cast a brief glance at Lt. Gov. Ramsey himself. After all, the Lt. Gov. was videoed by recently voicing his objections to including Tennessee’s hunters in the Senate version of the bill even though that issue was considered, debated and soundly adopted by the Senate Judiciary which is charged by Lt. Gov. Ramsey with vetting such issues. Furthermore, declaring “death” over a singular amendment would be premature since almost every senator learns quickly that such amendments can be modified or removed by the full Senate on the floor. There could be no shortage of senators whom Lt. Gov. Ramsey could have called upon to make or second such a motion to address the inclusion of licensed hunters in the Senate bill. Perhaps, Speaker Harwell was confused.

Indeed, we have but to look back to the comments made during the 2010 campaign cycle (for Governor) to see that Lt. Gov. Ramsey has a long history of representing to constituents that he supports this type of legislation. Consider this email extract from an email account that was used during the primaries for governor:

From: “Ron Ramsey” <>

Sent: Tuesday, [omitted], 2010

To: [omitted]

Subject: Re: HB 3141 & SB 3009


Dear [omitted],

I support the bill requiring businesses to allow employees with

handgun-carry permits to take their guns onto the company’s parking

lot if the gun is left in the employee’s locked car. . Permit-holding

citizens are some of our safest, most responsible citizens and their

constitutional rights should not expire at the entrance to a parking

lot. Asking a citizen to give up his or her safety and constitutional

rights en route from home to work is an unreasonable burden. Our

state recently saw the most brutal torture-slaying in Tennessee

history – and it began with a carjacking. I cannot in good conscience

ask law-abiding men and women to give up their right to self-defense

in the workplace or anywhere else.

Thank you,

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey

[emphasis added]. So, we cannot reasonably put the blame for the death of the Senate bill on the Lt. Gov.’s desk whom himself proclaims that it is an “unreasonable burden” to demand that people who have carry permits commute without the option of determining whether they will be able to provide for their own self-defense. Unreasonable burdens should be swiftly dispatched by reasonable legislators particularly which such burdens implicate risks to personal safety.

So the question, is Who? Who, in the Senate has enough power, control and influence that they could prematurely declare legislation such as this dead before it ever gets to the floor? Or, was it simply a statement by Speaker Harwell that was perhaps delusional or otherwise completely devoid of factual basis?

Its a mystery, or was it. The next few days and weeks will not only tell but will impact legislative ratings and races in the coming months.

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