Press Releases

TFA: GOP Leadership Lacks Dedication to Constitution

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; May 2, 2012:

May 1, 2012 marks the day that the 107th ended session

The 107th General Assembly has declared that it is finished and adjourned. It is the first time since the Civil War that Republicans have so dominated state government. Perhaps, looking back, now we know why. That is not to be taken as a negative observation as to all Republicans because there are some such as Sen. Mae Beavers, Sen. Tim Barnes, Sen. Mike Bell, Sen. Stacey Campfield, Sen. Doug Overby, Sen. Ken Yager, Sen. Mike Faulk, Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, Rep. Mark White, Rep. Richard Montgomery, Rep. Charles Sargeant and others whose actions over the last few weeks have been noted in recorded public votes on the Safe Commute legislation. Certainly, some of these may have voted publicly knowing that the bill was already dead or never likely to see the floor but these are recorded votes. Others, the 30 or so House Sponsors and the 4 Senate sponsors, went on record but as with Rep. Glen Casada and Rep. Bill Dunn, the act of sponsoring the bill sometimes does not mean that they will support the bill when called upon.

So what are the 2nd Amendment accomplishments of the 107th General Assembly:




Sadly, it is a list devoid of substance.

Where does the fault lie? First, with Senate and House Republican Leadership as well as a Big Business first Governor. Second with the Republican caucus members collectively – with a few identifiable exceptions.

In the Senate, we have a Lt. Gov. who promised TFA in 2010 that if it “stood down” that “they” would pass the safe commute law. 2011 came and went with a disappointing result – a result that one who had previously proudly boasted of his support for the 2nd Amendment was unwilling or unable to produce the result promised. When the Lt. Gov. was reminded of the promise, the first response was “Oh, I did not mean in 2011….” While that assertion carry little persuasive assurance, 2012 was just around the corner. TFA’s promise to stand down in 2011 had been kept. In writing the Lt. Gov. assured TFA leaders that they would pass safe commute in 2012. Perhaps he did not know that Speaker Harwell, Debra Maggart, Gerald McCormick and the glorious Governor had no such intent. However, perhaps the Lt. Gov. did know that. The events of 2012 more likely suggest the latter since there are reports of anger when the news reached the Lt. Gov’s office that the Safe Commute bill had passed overwhelmingly out of Senate Judiciary. Similarly, the bill had been on the radar for 4 years. The Lt. Gov. was aware of that as numerous texts, emails and recorded statements reflect. He apparently knew since the beginning of session that the bill was pending, the scope of the bill and had even voiced his concerns about it being “too broad.” But where is the evidence he did anything to get it amended to restrict it? Where is the evidence that he brought the interested parties (including TFA) together to hammer out a compromise so that his promises would be his bond? Where is the evidence he took any action whatsoever to honor his promise to pass it in either 2011 or according to his later writings 2012? Where is any proof that he did anything to keep his promise? Sadly, the only evidence we have are nonconstructive assertions that he did not support it as it was introduced, as it was approved by the Senate Judiciary or as the sponsor carried it without any movement at all to the Calendar committee (which the sponsor himself chaired). We have no evidence of any movement on his part to bring it to the floor but sadly just the contrary – his presumably private words of intentional doom were leaked by Speaker Harwell on video to

In the Senate, fault also lies with many in the Senate Republican caucus. Those caucus members elect their leaders and have the power to hold them accountable and to petition them when the direction of leadership is not the direction of the majority of the caucus. Our records indicate that at least 46,000 emails have been sent to the legislators on this one bill since January 2012. We have many copies of other emails sent outside of our system and responses of legislators. We have evidence of many posts (frequently on Facebook to legislative pages – although many were deleted). It is not credible to suggest that any legislator was unaware of this legislation or the interest in it. Yet we have no evidence that the caucus members as a group pressured leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. There is some evidence that a handful tried, even with Democratic opportunities being offered, but as a whole the Senate Republican caucus followed Big Business, Republican leadership and ultimately turned its back on the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment.

In the House, its much the same. TFA knew that Beth Harwell was not a good speaker relative to the Constitution or the 2nd Amendment. There is evidence to suggest that the Lt. Gov. knew and had some concers about that as well but that is another story. TFA knew of her horrible yet consistent voting record. We knew Casada was in the lead and we later learned that Harwell became speaker only when some Republican caucus members bowed to pressure from Haslam and broke their assurances to support Casada. We also hear statements from some of those of “Buyer’s Remorse” yet they must accept blame for the leadership that they knowingly created.

We anticipate based on statements from leadership that were reported to us that House Republican caucus leadership had admonished rank and file members to avoid sponsoring any 2nd Amendment legislation this year. Some few did but not with the conviction to push it to the floor. Perhaps this reflects somewhat on why the House sponsor was Rep. Eddie Bass a truly conservative legislator serving as a Democrat. It also puts an entirely different light on later statements by Republicans that they would not let a 2nd Amendment law sponsored by a Democrat come to the floor – particularly in an election year. Are we to now accept that our lives, the right of self-defense and our constitutional rights are secondary to the partisan agendas of Republic leadership? Yes, we must accept that fact. We must also accept that many in the caucus were aware of and tolerated this nefarious prioritization by leadership.

We have seen public statements by Harwell, Maggart and McCormick opposing this legislation. We know that the opposition was in large part due to Debra Maggart’s belief that passing 2nd Amendment legislation would hurt Republicans in an election year (oh yeah, like it has since 1996) as well as Harwell general abhorence of 2nd Amendment legislation. We know that misrepresentations were made within the caucus about negative support from entities such as NFIB which we are assured by NFIB’s lobbyist that it took no position on the bill. We know that other Big Business organizations like Federal Express in particular put a lot of pressure on the Legislature to stop the bill. Not just pressure but also financial pressure. We also know that in the later days the Governor even had as many as 4 of his staff in the halls of the legislature lobbying against the bill. There is no doubt that the Governor is a “Big Business” RINO. Certainly, fault lies at the feet of leadership and specifically at the feet of Debra Maggart as the architect of this ploy and one of those who oversaw its implementation.

But, as in the Senate, the Republicans held a super majority of 64 of 99 seats. They could have passed anything that they wanted as a caucus even if a significant number of the caucus voted against the measure since many Democrats will predictably support 2nd Amendment issues on floor votes. The Republicans, as a caucus, could have demanded that the bill be brought to the floor rather than shuttled off to the crematory called “summer study”. The caucus members could have demanded constitutional allegiance and that leadership honor their oaths of office. If any did it was too few, too late. Consequently, fault also lies with the House Republican caucus as a whole. Now, I know that there are some like Rep. Tony Shipley who take great offense at placing any blame on the Republican caucus. I understand that. But the fact is that there were 64 House Republicans and things become law with only 50 votes. So, where was the motion or votes of those in the caucus on the floor to bring this bill to the floor – even back from its death sentence to summer study? Where was the recall motion? Where was any public evidence of opposition by Republican legislators – other than a few votes in the Calendar Committee – to leadership? There is no public evidence of anything from the caucus as a whole but the apathetic willingness to sell out the lives and rights of citizens to the political games of leadership and the demands of Big Business.

The 107th General Assembly, the Republican leadership, the Republican caucuses (as a whole) have laid the goose’s golden egg on the 2nd Amendment but this time it is nothing more than fool’s gold. Indeed, an examination of other legislation that the General Assembly did pass shows a remarkable trend to appease their Big Business supporters and very little to strengthen the role that the constitutions play.

Campaign Season

The 107th General Assembly proves that the current Republican leadership and caucuses are not 100% dedicated to the constitution or the 2nd Amendment. Now, perhaps Beth Harwell will consider telling the truth in her representation on that statement and change the number to perhaps a more honest percentage somewhere apparently far south of 50%.

The 107th General Assembly also demonstrates the need for citizens to make commitments personally and/or through PAC’s to get involved in the 2012 elections. These are the campaign contribtion limits from the State’s website. One thing to notice is how the incumbents have protected themselves by allowing “party PACS” to support candidates at levels at least 4 times greater than the amounts allowed to other PACs. Also understand that the limits are “per race” and consequently a primary and a general election are separate races.

12. Are there any dollar limitations on the amount of campaign contributions that a PAC may give to a candidate? 

                                            *POLITICAL PARTY PACS)           POLITICAL PARTY PACS
Statewide Office  $3,600  $10,700       50% of total contributions               $357,000
State Senate      $1,400  $10,700               $107,200                          $57,200
State Rep/        $1,400   $7,100               $107,200                          $28,600
Local Office

*Political party PACs include those committees controlled by a political party on the national, state or local level and caucuses of a political party established by members of either house of the General Assembly. T.C.A. § 2-10-302

If you are concerned about what you have seen over the last 4 years, do more than complain. Get involved in the races. Make a financial commitment even if it means having a yard sale, a bake sale, a car wash or a temporary 2nd job. Support those who are proven to have supported your rights and oppose with all the vigor you can muster those who have sold your rights to appease Big Business. There are no limits on what you can contribute to PACS or the number of PACS you support.

2nd Amendment Offenders List

Oh, there are so many.

One who is not a legislator but who probably wishes he was is former Gun Show Promoter, radio personality, news paper publisher, strip club operator and now resigned TFA life member Bob Pope who claims this time that he has been personally polling citizen gun owners and that he has determined that 80% do not support the safe commute bill.


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