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TFA Praises Ramsey on New Guns-in-Cars Bill Despite ‘Potential Omissions’

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

The Tennessee Firearms Association is pleased to see that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is a Senate Sponsor of at least part of the Safe Commute law in 2013 with the introduction of SB0142. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Senate Judiciary on February 5, 2013.

The bill as written would allow permit holders to store their firearms in their own cars even if parked on the parking lot of another, with minor exception, but it has some potential omissions that should be addressed. It is clear, however, that this bill addresses some of the issues that the Lt. Gov. personally promised TFA that he would see passed in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, none of those bills came to the Senate floor in 2011 or 2012.

The Tennessee Firearms Association is interested to see what develops with the bill and what type of amendments Lt. Gov. Ramsey tolerates this year. For example, in 2012 he, Haslam and Harwell openly opposed any bill such as this that did not include exceptions for large employers, state colleges and presumptively other government agencies. See, http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/apr/05/house-speaker-says-parking-lot-guns-bill-is-dead/?print=1. Indeed, there are TNReport.com news clips where he expressed similar concerns about his hesitations to the legislation in 2012 because of the desires of big business interests, the Chamber of Commerce and large schools to either opt-out or have some other means to avoiding such a law.

This year, TFA will oppose any amendments that would create exceptions to the concept embodied in the Safe Commute proposal that an individual should be allowed to keep in his or her car any items that the person legally owns and possesses.

As for concerns about the bill itself, there are some that will need to be addressed only to the sponsor but he has not responded to repeated requests to discuss the bill. Setting those topics aside, there are other concerns with the bill that are clearly apparent to anyone reading the proposed bill. For example:

– the bill is limited to a “permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle.” We are not aware of any reason to exclude permit holders who are relying on a borrowed car, a family owned car, a leased car or even a temporary rental from protection under this bill.

– the bill uses the qualifier “Notwithstanding §§ 39-17-1309, 39-17-1311, or § 39-17-1359, . . .” We are concerned that this language may be intended to avoid prohibitions under other statutes or that it would not address grand fathered local government restrictions under 39-17-1314 such as apply in Knoxville and Davidson Counties relative to government parking areas and/or locally managed parks.

– the bill does not address “incidental exposure” that could occur while the permit holder is storing the weapon in the car if that occurs on the property. Thus, a security camera or another employee that sees a permit holder placing the weapon in the glove compartment once on the property might not be protected by the legislation as presently written.

– the bill does not preclude an employer from having a “no weapons” policy and firing, terminating or refusing to hire individuals with carry permits or who store their weapons in the parking areas (and consequently denying them both safe commute as well as unemployment benefits or any remedy for wrongful termination.)

– the bill would criminalize under state law possession on any federal property that might be restricted. We would prefer that Tennessee not bootstrap federal infringements of 2nd Amendment rights and leave the enforcement of any such restrictions to be the burden of the federal government.

We would be glad to work with the Lt. Gov. and the bill co-sponsors to address these issues and have offered to do so. We are waiting on a response.