Press Releases

TN Chamber’s Statement of Opposition to ‘Guns in Workplace’ Bill

Letter to Tennessee General Assembly Lawmakers, 1 March 2012; Distributed by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

Members of the 107th General Assembly Tennessee State Capitol

Dear Senator/ Representative:

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms have long recognized the value of firearms to protect life, liberty and property. But in Tennessee, proposals before the Legislature use the 2nd Amendment to produce the opposite effect: The cause of gun rights is being used to attack property rights.

Tennessee has enacted legislation that wisely affirms personal freedom by letting law-abiding citizens obtain permits to carry handguns. But this year, that privilege is being used to attack the rights of private property owners. SB2992/HB 3559 and SB3002/HB 3560 are both aimed at curtailing the rights of private property owners by forcing them to allow firearms to be carried onto their premises — even if the property owner objects. The bills even go farther, allowing a person to have a weapon on private property even when the person does not have the right to be on the premises.

The proposed “guns in the parking lot” bills actually have a much broader reach – pulling in any business entity, owner/manager/possessor of real property or public or private employer. It makes it illegal for them to have or enforce a policy restricting firearms in vehicles parked on their private property.

Under current law, private property owners and employers have the authority to make the rules on their own premises. But when it comes to guns, this legislation would take away that freedom. If an employer or property owner – from a retail store to a factory to a daycare center to a hospital to an educational institution – wishes to prohibit individuals or employees from bringing firearms on their property, they should have the right to do so.

This proposed law is a major infringement on private property rights. There is no right in the state or federal Constitution to have a gun on someone else’s property. This is not a place where the government should substitute its judgment for that of the property owners. Decisions about their own safety, as well as that of their customers and employees, should be the property owner’s to make.

This is a year in which both lawmakers and citizens are calling for government to stop the excessive regulation of our lives and our businesses. Supporters of this legislation argue that this enhances individual rights, but you cannot expand rights for one person by restricting the rights of another. And you cannot use more government regulation to create less regulation.

We urge you to oppose SB 2992/HB 3559 and SB 3002/HB 3560.


Associated Builders and Contractors,
Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Hospital Alliance of Tennessee,
Knoxville Chamber of Commerce,
Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports,
Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police,
Tennessee Bankers Association,
Tennessee Business Roundtable,
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation,
Tennessee Hospital Association,
Tennessee Hospitality Association,
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities,
Association Tennessee Paper Council,
Tennessee Petroleum Council,
Tennessee Public and Teaching Hospital,
Association Tennessee Railroads Inc.,
Tennessee Retail Association,

Press Releases

TFA: Action on Gun Rights Could Be Worse Under Harwell, Haslam Than Naifeh

Alert from Tennessee Firearms Association; Jan. 11, 2012:

Tennessee’s General Assembly is back in session

January 2012 brings the Tennessee Legislature officially back in session. This is the second half of the two year 107th General Assembly. It is also an election year where all House members are up for re-election and one-half of the Senate members are up for election.

The House remains under the leadership of Speaker Beth Harwell and some of her lieutenants. The Senate remains under the control of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. Harwell has a clear and consistent voting history that lacks support for 2nd Amendment issues. On the other hand, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has a fairly consistent voting record in support of 2nd Amendment issues.

Its common knowledge that the House now has 64 Republicans of the 99 total House members. Only 50 are required to pass any law. Republicans, as a group, have a 14 vote margin to allow for those Republicans who will not vote to support 2nd Amendment issues. That is significant because the Speaker, Beth Harwell, would historically fit within that 14 vote minority. Nevertheless, it was anticipated by many that with Republicans taking control and all the grandstanding about how good Republicans are on the 2nd Amendment that noteable progress on firearms and 2nd Amendment issues would have occurred in 2011. It did not and that can be largely placed as as the consequence of the preferences of Beth Harwell and perhaps even Debra Maggart.

The complete lack of material progess on 2nd Amendment issues did not miss the attention of the news media, the NRA, TFA, or others. Apparently, there was enough questions raised and complaints made that the House Republican leadership felt it was important to respond to publicly.

On July 13, 2011, Rep. Gerald McCormick released a letter to House Republican caucus members in which he announced the creation of the “Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force” (for the House of Representatives). That letter provided (with some emphasis added)

Fellow Caucus Members:
I hope that this letter finds you well. I am very proud of the great things we accomplished together during this past legislative session, and confident that we will continue that positive momentum when we return in January. In order to accomplish that goal, it is vital that we devote time during recess to study important issues that impact all those that live across our great state.
With that in mind, I am writing this letter to advise you that I am appointing a Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force. The rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment are sacred to many citizens, and we must ensure we craft responsible legislation to protect those rights. This task force will be responsible for studying current state laws to identify if any changes may need to be made. In addition, it will meet with outside groups to gain a better understanding of these issues. The task force will report back to members of the Republican Caucus with results of their study.
The Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force will consist of the following members:
Rep. Curry Todd, Chairman
Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny
Rep. Joshua Evans
Rep. Andy Holt
Rep. Barrett Rich
Rep. Glen Casada
Rep. John Forgety
Please feel free to contact members of this task force if you have any additional questions about this important issue.

On July 14, 2011, TFA sent an email to all members of the Republican caucus task force as well as to House leaders and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. No material acknowledgement much less response was made. So, looking at the events from Rep. McCormick’s July 2011 letter to the present, what has happened? Nothing of material notice on this declaration that there was a vital need to review current laws to identify changes that “need” to be made and to meet with outside groups to better under these issues. Was that mere political “huggy – kissy” addressed to 2nd Amendment supporters or was it said with genuine determination to address these issues? As of August 2011, nothing had happened or been announced. As of mid-September, another TFALAC report noted that nothing had happened but that “word had it” that a meeting would take place in late October – although there was no written announcement to confirm it from the Task Force.

In mid-October, the chair of the Task Force, Rep. Curry Todd was arrested in Nashville on DUI charges. Statements reported in the Times Free Press on October 13, and attributed to Rep. Gerald McCormick suggest that the House Republican Caucus would focus its attention in 2012 on issues other than Second Amendment topics and that it will not “push” the 2nd Amendment issues in 2012. McCormick’s statement, viewed in light of what the House Republican Caucus did in the 2011 legislative cycle, could be construed to mean that the House Republican leadership saw no importance in legislatively addressing the 2nd Amendment, the existing unconstitutional laws, or addressing the other concerns of Tennessee’s firearms owners. According to the news report,

The future of the task force itself is in limbo with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who created the panel, saying he will make a decision about it by next week.

McCormick said Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, voluntarily resigned his task force chairmanship during a conversation with him earlier today. McCormick emphasized Todd still remains chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee.

“I just said thank you, I think that would be the best thing,” McCormick said of Todd’s offer.

Meanwhile, the next meeting of the firearms task force, which McCormick created, has been postponed. McCormick said the task force could be disbanded.

“I was really hoping the economy would be roaring back by now, and it’s not,” McCormick said of his reasoning. “I think people want us to focus more on economic development and jobs and leave some of the other issues to the side for the time being.

“This is a timely opportunity to do that with the gun task force,” McCormick said. “I don’t think we need to push those issues right now.”

Then, on Monday, October 17, paper reported that House Speaker Pro Tempore, Judd Matheny, who was vice-chairing the task force had expressed a desire to continue with the task force notwithstanding what McCormick has said. The Times Free Press reported:

Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he decided the group, which is looking at expansion of Tennessee’s handgun-carry permit laws, would go on after House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who is the panel’s vice chair, voiced interest in taking over as chairman.

“I just decided to keep it going,” said McCormick, who weighed over the weekend whether to disband the panel in order to focus more on job-related issues. “I still say it’s not going to be a top legislative priority by any means.”

The former chairman, Rep. Curry Todd, R-Memphis, resigned from the post after his arrest.

McCormick said Todd’s situation also shouldn’t interfere with legislative discussions about expanding places that permit holders can carry their weapons.

Following those events, the caucus did meet on the Monday following Thanksgiving. No notice was given to TFA (despite repeated emails to all task force members) that the meeting was to be had and it turned out that only a handful of people were altered at the last minute of its meeting. No report has been issued or released to the public. No subsequent meetings have been publicly held or announced.

Its now January 2012. At this time, news reports consistently quote Harwell, Haslam and others on the 2012 legislative agenda. There is no mention of the Task Force, any report from the Task Force, or any 2nd Amendment issues that are included in any of this agenda. To the contrary, reports are just the opposite that House Leadership, noteably Harwell and Maggart, are communicating to members that the House leadership not only does not want to pursue 2nd Amendment issues but that it wants to minimize or prevent any such bills from being offered or advanced.

Reviewing comments by Harwell, its clear her support for 2nd Amendment issues is no greater than if not less than the support that we saw from Jimmy Naifeh (D.) in the last few years of his service as Speaker. Certainly, that is the message that Speaker Harwell has sent. In a comment to the Tennessean on these issues, she claimed – some might conclude falsely – that the caucus is 100% committed to gun rights. Certainly, that assertion has to be constrasted against her prior votes since she generally votes against 2nd Amendment legislation and there are some “left of center” Republicans who go right along with her on those issues.

Harwell’s statements to the news media clearly reflect that that, at least for her, the issues pertaining to gun rights are just another topic to be taken up in rotation – if at all:

Harwell, whose candidacy for speaker was opposed by many gun rights groups, is viewed with particular skepticism. She said critics should remember the banner years enjoyed by gun rights groups in 2009 and 2010, when Republicans pushed through more permissive gun laws.

“They know that our Republican caucus is 100 percent committed to gun rights,” she said.

Harwell does not defend her own voting record but references passage of bills that she voted against.

In comments that Harwell made to the Nashville City Paper, she goes further and makes clear that she, as Speaker, had no intent of spending any time at all on firearms issues in 2011 and similar if not worse is now foreseen for 2012.

Even Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, an unabashed gun advocate, has admitted to reporters that he discouraged new gun bills to avoid media coverage that might make it appear that the legislature was distracted. The new House speaker, Nashville’s Beth Harwell, dismissed outright any need for new gun laws.

“We addressed a good number of gun bills last session,” Harwell told reporters shortly after Republicans nominated her late last year to preside over the House. “I feel that clearly we received a mandate from the public that we need to be focused on jobs and education and the economy this session.” (emphasis added)

If these hints are accurate, and they certainly seem to be, what should firearms owners and 2nd Amendment supporters expect from the General Assembly in 2012 —— nothing, nothing at all. Since 1995, legislative progress on firearms issues could prove ultimately to be worse with a Republican governor and Beth Harwell as speaker of the House (and those in the caucus who support her) than in any year in which the House was controlled by Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and Democratic leadership. One needs only a barely functional memory to recall the shenigans that occurred under Speaker Naifeh and his battalion of shadow operatives who were apparently instructed to stall or kill as much 2nd Amendment (particularly NRA requested) legislation as possible. Despite that, many Democrats including Eddie Bass, John Mark Windle, Ben West, Doug Jackson and others stood up for 2nd Amendment rights.

Even with Harwell in control by what is rumored to be a 1 or 2 vote margin in the caucus, there are certainly House Republican members who are willing to support 2nd Amendment issues and all concede that if the bills get to floor for a full vote that almost any 2nd Amendment legislation will pass – including perhaps even what is commonly referred to as Constitutional Carry. One must wonder to what extent the pro-2nd Amendment legislators are being suppressed by “suggestions” of future consequences coming from the Speaker’s office.

It is important to make clear, however, that we are not suggesting that the Legislature needs to totally focus on 2nd Amendment issues. Looking at 2011, one must examine not whether a few specific bills were passed but the overall tone of the legislative session which involved passage of 510 public acts, 32 private acts, and way over 1000 resolutions.

Would paying some meaningful attention to constitutional rights and 2nd Amendment issues really have the effect of totalling derailing everything else that the Republican leadership and Governor want to accomplish? That is a silly question and a foolish assertion. There is plenty of time to pay attention to other issues, as shown by 2011’s actions, yet still allocate a small but reasonable amount of time to address some 2nd Amendment issues. This suggests that its not an issue of time. Its not an issue of expenses. But that raises the question of why then play this game with voters across the state? One might consider that its nothing more than partisan politics in an election cycle where “leadership” desires to avoid news reports of 2nd Amendment issues and preclude Democratic opponents (or even primary challengers) from referencing 2nd Amendment topics. It does not appear that such leadership has given any material consideration to the backlash that can and should arise against them and those that support them from Tennessee’s firearms owners. Why? Well, as one House leader has stated, its because Tennessee’s gun owners really do not have a choice but to support Republicans because Republicans are the “best friends” that gun owners (and presumably conservatives in general) have. Looking at 2011 and what can be expected in 2012, that assertion raises the question of “Really?”

Pay close attention in 2012. Tennessee conservatives, firearms owners, 2nd Amendment supporters are now faced with vetting out the disingenuous and making sure that their actions are recalled when its time to raise money, campaign and vote. In particular, Harwell and a few others in leadership may be hard to defeat in an election but those in the caucus who voted to put them in power and who support them in power may be much easier targets….

Liberty and Justice

Gov. Haslam, Rep. Todd Link Up: Todd Says He’s Sorry

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam saw Rep. Curry Todd at a charity golf tournament Monday and said Todd, who was arrested last week for drunken driving with a loaded weapon in his car, told him he made a mistake.

“He said, ‘I realize I made a bad mistake, and I’m sorry,'” Haslam said.

Todd, a Republican from Collierville, participated in a golf event Monday held by Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Rep. Gary Odom. Harwell, a Republican, and Odom, a Democrat, both represent Nashville.

“I went out there to have breakfast, and Curry was part of the group playing golf,” Haslam said. “I asked him how he was doing. It was purely more of a personal conversation. We didn’t talk about the Legislature.

“I was obviously, like everybody else really, sorry to see that happen. It was a big mistake from Representative Todd that could have had dangerous consequences. I think he is aware of that as well.”

The governor addressed several issues with reporters after he spoke to the Governor’s Housing Summit in Franklin, including Todd’s arrest, the Occupy Wall Street protests, school vouchers and the matter of Tennesseans over 60 not having to have photos on their driver’s licenses.

Todd’s arrest, which has rekindled the debate over gun carry laws in the state since Todd was the sponsor of the bill to allow guns in bars, has begun to raise speculation about the course of the agenda under the Republican-controlled Legislature next year.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick had put Todd in the chairman’s role of a task force on firearms. But Todd reportedly told McCormick after the arrest he would vacate that position, and McCormick had been considering lowering the profile of the gun task force to focus more on the economy. McCormick reportedly has decided to keep the task force going, but with a diminished priority.

Todd announced Monday afternoon that he’s stepping down as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee “until this matter is resolved.”

“The Committee’s work is an important aspect of the General Assembly and I do not want my actions to distract from that,” read a short statement from Todd.

Haslam was asked about any potential impact on the legislative agenda next year, but he offered only clues to his own agenda, which seemed to be devoid of gun issues.

“If you look at what we proposed last year, and I think the bills we propose this year, there will be things focused again on jobs, education and things that are budget-related,” Haslam said. “I think you’ll continue to see our focus be there. That’s what it was last year.”

Haslam’s reference to “last year” was to the legislative session held in the first part of 2011. The Legislature will reconvene in January 2012.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey last week said he wanted to revisit the matter of why Tennesseans over 60 are allowed to have driver’s licenses without their photographs on them — one of the snags in the state’s new photo ID law for voting. Ramsey said he was looking for the justification of the 60-and-over exemption, and Haslam was asked if he would advocate addressing it as well.

“I guess I would want to hear the pros and cons of that,” Haslam said. “I assume the reason of that was just to make it easier, or maybe for some personal reasons for folks over 60. I don’t understand the reason why there was an exception there to begin with.

“I’m sure there is a good reason. I just don’t happen to know how that came to be.”

People have camped out in New York in an “Occupy Wall Street” protest, which has been copied in other cities, including Nashville, where protesters have gathered recently at Legislative Plaza. Haslam said he sees disgruntlement among the people.

“I think what you really have is a lot of dissatisfaction about the current condition of the country,” Haslam said. “You see that in how people feel about: How confident are you about the direction of the country? That’s come out in a lot of ways.

“Right now, their message is fairly — how should I describe it? — disorganized. There are a lot of different thoughts there. I think, at the root, people are saying, ‘We really don’t like the way things are going.’ My point back would be: Let’s talk about what we would do differently. Let’s talk about specific things that have caused us to be here and what we would do differently.”

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, has said he plans to pursue a school voucher initiative for low-income students in Hamilton, Knox, Davidson and Shelby counties, which hold the state’s four largest cities. The Senate approved a similar measure in April, but the House Education Subcommittee sent the bill for further study.

Haslam said his administration is trying to decide how to approach the voucher issue and that there is no decision yet. He said the benefit is giving parents choice on where their children go to school but that there is a need to balance that against whether such an approach is helpful or harmful to existing public schools.

Haslam addressed the nation’s economic woes in his speech to a luncheon on housing held at the Marriott at Cool Springs.

“I don’t know how we could have a more challenging environment,” he told the crowd. “I would love to tell you I think that is going to get a lot better sometime soon. But I really don’t think that.

“As confident as I am long-term about the future of Tennessee, I think we are, like everyone else, caught in the grips of working our way out of some serious economic issues.”

Business and Economy Featured Liberty and Justice

Tourism to TN Up Following ‘Guns-in-Bars’ Law

Tennessee would turn into the Wild West. Drunken shootouts would be the norm. And tourists would shun the state, opting for safer, calmer locales.

Those were the predictions of opponents of a law to allow any of the state’s 317,000 gun owners with handgun carry permits to take their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol so long as they abstain from drinking. But two years after the law’s initial passage, administration officials say the courts have not convicted anyone of wielding a gun while intoxicated at a bar, nor has tourism in the Volunteer State plummeted.

In 2010, the year after the law first passed, the state’s tourism numbers were up 6.3 percent, according to state officials. Every county saw a boost in tourism, according to a report by the Department of Tourism Development and the U.S. Travel Association.

“It doesn’t surprise me that tourism didn’t drop,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville. “There wasn’t one documented case still to this day of someone going into a bar, a gun permit holder, and using their firearm. There’s still not.”

The issue drew renewed attention this week, after the sponsor of the so-called guns-in-bars law, Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, was arrested in Nashville on charges of drunk driving and carrying a loaded handgun while intoxicated. Critics of the law say the arrest shoots holes in the law, but Ramsey rejected those suggestions.

The idea that the incident should trigger a repeal of the law is the logical equivalent of arguing that people should no longer be allowed to drive because of the chance of drunk driving, he said.

Critics of the law contend the bump-in-tourism statistics don’t reflect the groups that took their conventions elsewhere out of fear they’d encounter hordes of heavily armed hillbillies whooping it up in the local honky-tonks.

“As wonderful as Tennessee is, it sends an image out to the world that we’re a bunch of red-thumbed rednecks with a bunch of guns,” said Adam Dread, a Nashville attorney who led the court challenge against the law in 2009,

While Dread says his sense is to “feel sorry” for Rep. Todd, he thinks the Shelby County Republican’s arrest “exposed the hypocrisy of the whole bill” and does indeed buttresses the case for repeal of the law.

“Every law-abiding gun owner should be ticked about it,” said Dread.

In fact, abiding by the law appears to be just what the vast majority of Tennessee’s licensed gun-carriers are doing when they’re packing heat in establishments that serve alcohol. According to the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, not one person with a handgun permit has been convicted of brandishing their weapon while drinking in a bar.

“We have not been notified by any courts across the state for any violations of that law,” said department spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals. “To our knowledge, there have been no convictions of that law.”

In 2009, Todd led lawmakers in passing the “guns-in-bars” bill, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, who said the legislation was “reckless and lacking basic safeguards to ensure public safety.” A Nashville judge later weighed in, striking down the law and saying its language was unconstitutionally vague in its definition of restaurants and bars.

In 2010, Todd got his bill passed a second time but with more specific language, including a provision allowing individual patrons to bring guns with them into any establishment that serves alcohol unless the bar or restaurant bans guns. Again, the Legislature approved the measure despite Bredesen’s protests.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Todd said he was “deeply sorry” for the events surrounding his arrest, adding he would talk with House Speaker Beth Harwell next week about whether he should step down from his post as chairman of the State and Local Government Committee.

House Republican Leader Gerald McCormick told reporters he wouldn’t rush to judgment on Todd’s arrest, but said everyone makes mistakes.

“I think it’s a bad idea to drink and carry a gun, obviously. Now I don’t know the details of what happened with Rep. Todd (Tuesday) night, but I think he would agree with me, and I know he would agree with me, that people who are drinking should not have loaded handguns with them,” said McCormick, of Chattanooga.

Asked whether the allegations against Todd call into question whether other handgun carry permit holders should continue to be trusted to follow the law, McCormick said, “Until we find out all the details, I’d be hesitant to answer that.”

Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester demanded Todd resign from the Legislature and said any inaction by Harwell will reveal whether “she believes Republican leaders deserve special treatment or she believes these actions demand consequences.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner was more supportive of his peer across the aisle, saying he hopes Todd keeps his committee chairmanship.

Todd was arrested in Nashville at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday down the street from Vanderbilt University. According to a police affidavit, Todd reeked of alcohol, his eyes were “red, watery and bloodshot,” and his speech was slurred. Police said he was “extremely unsteady on his feet” during the field sobriety tests, and Todd attempted to lean on his vehicle to steady himself. He refused a breath alcohol test, although he admitted to having two drinks.

Police later learned Todd had a loaded Smith & Wesson 38 Special in a holster tucked between the driver’s seat and the center console. He was released from jail Wednesday on a $3,000 bond.

Todd, who is retired from a career in law enforcement, could lose his handgun carry permit for three years if convicted of possessing the handgun while under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable with less than one year of jail time and a fine of no more than $2,500.

Press Releases

Firearms, Sportsmen Community ?Backs Wamp for Guv

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 27, 2010:

NASHVILLE – On the heels of a major endorsement from Tennessee gun rights advocate Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms, Republican Zach Wamp announced today additional support from grassroots leaders in the sportsmen and 2nd Amendment community in his bid for governor.

More than 30 hunting, fishing and firearms advocates representing Tennessee’s three grand divisions have publicly endorsed Zach’s bid for governor, highlighting his lifelong commitment to the 2nd Amendment and the state’s hunting and fishing heritage while acknowledging the need for a strong conservative governor who will actively protect the sporting rights cherished by so many Tennesseans.

“I have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from gun owners and sportsmen throughout this campaign,” said Wamp. “We are leading in the rural areas of the state and much of that support comes from those who are familiar with my strong commitment to hunting, fishing and the 2nd Amendment. As governor, I will protect and nurture these rights from day one.”

As a member of Congress, Zach has proudly and consistently supported Tennesseans’ right to own and bear arms while protecting the important traditions of hunting and fishing. Zach opposed the United Nations’ taxation on firearms, protected Tennesseans’ rights to defend themselves and supports an amendment to the state constitution that guarantees Tennesseans’ right to hunt and fish.

“I agree wholeheartedly with what Ronnie Barrett said two weeks ago. Zach Wamp has stood strong with us to protect and defend our 2nd Amendment rights,” said David Waldrip, a longtime 2nd Amendment grassroots activist and resident of Shelby County. ??“We must make sure that our next Governor understands, supports and defends our rights under the constitution. Zach Wamp is that man, and I encourage my fellow gun owners, carry permit holders and sportsmen to follow Ronnie Barrett’s example and join me in supporting Zach Wamp for governor.”

Tennessee sportsmen supporting Zach Wamp for Governor

Gary Arnett; a resident of Lake County, owner of Gary’s Guide Services on Reelfoot Lake, lifelong sportsman and Tennessean

Mike Beauchane; a resident of Robertson County and a National Rifle Association (NRA) Member

Tom Bible; a resident of Hamilton County and a lifetime member of the NRA

Jeff Breedlove; a resident of Hamilton County, Sportsman, and avid hunter

Lewis Card ,Jr.; a resident of Hamilton County, Life Member of Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Ducks Unlimited member,  Lifetime Tennessee Hunting License, Wild Turkey Federation member,  Lifetime NRA member

Jon Clapper; resident of Wilson County, past NRA member, member of Alaskan Sport Fishing Association and lifelong hunter and angler

Jim Colley; a resident of Knox County and past chairman of the Knoxville Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Doug Cook; a resident of Hamilton County, member of Safari Club International (SCI) and QDMA

Tom Eberle; a resident of Hamilton County, and member of SCI, Ducks Unlimited,  and NRA

Jerry Floyd; a resident of Sevier County  and owner of J. Floyds Golf and Guns, a staple in the East Tennessee sporting community since 1970

Trey Haley; a resident of Williamson County, avid hunter, member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

David Harrison; a resident of Hamilton County and member of  Ducks Unlimited, SCI, Trout Unlimited, Conservation League

Kurt Holbert; a resident of Decatur County and life long sportsman

Steve Jones; a resident of Anderson County, state record setter for black bear and elk, member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and winner of the 2008 Outdoor Life’s Adventure of the Year Photo

Tull Malone; resident of and Deputy Sheriff in Lincoln County, National Wild Turkey Federation committee member and avid hunter

Pat May; a resident of Meigs County and 3 Time Past President of the Highland Sports Club

Joe Painter; a resident of Hamilton County, Sportsman, Concealed Weapon Permit Holder

Charlie Peavyhouse; a resident of Hamilton County, he formerly served on Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Board of Commissioners.

David Perry; a resident of Blount County and former co-owner of Gunny’s Guns

Rick Pollard; a resident of Hamilton County and member of the NRA

Jubal Ragsdale; a resident of and Deputy Sheriff in Lincoln County and lifetime member of the NRA

Tony Sanders; a resident of Hamilton County, President of Chattanooga NRA Chapter, and local radio host on Tennessee outdoor living

John Shorter; a resident of Davidson County and avid fisherman

Marvin Smith; a resident of Hamilton County and a member of Boat US

Dr. Stephen Sawrie; a resident of Hamilton County and a lifetime member of the NRA

Bill Swann II; a resident of Sequatchie County, President, Chattanooga Chapter, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, NRA member

Bill Swann III; a resident of Hamilton County, Treasurer, Chattanooga Chapter, Safari Club International (SCI),  Ducks Unlimited (DU), NRA member

G.L. Teauge; a resident of Decatur County and former TWRA Commissioner

Curry Todd; Tennessee State Representative from District 95 in Shelby County, 2nd Amendment advocate in the State House and author of recent legislation to protect gun owners’ rights.

Bob Turner; a resident of Shelby County and past member of Ducks Unlimited

Lewis Walker; a resident of Cumberland County and a lifelong sportsman. Lewis has been a longtime member of the NRA and has helped to start various National Wild Turkey Federation chapters across the Southeast.

Tom Waller; a resident of Hamilton County, Gun Owners of America Life Member, NRA Benefactor Member, Second Amendment Foundation Life Member

David Waldrip; a resident of Shelby County State wide NRA volunteer who has been involved in grassroots political efforts in support of the Second Amendment for the past ten years. The 2008, co-winner of the NRA’s Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year award.

Dexter White; a resident of Hamilton County, member of the Federation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) and QDMA

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at

Press Releases

Wamp Takes Aim at Haslam’s Position on Guns

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 12, 2010:

NASHVILLE – On the eve of tonight’s statewide gubernatorial debate, the media is once again focusing on Bill Haslam’s repeated attempts to mislead voters about his real record – this time in a Haslam mailing on guns and 2nd Amendment rights – which WBIR-TV in Knoxville concluded was “misleading” and a “stretch” of the truth.

Specifically, the WBIR report released last week concluded the following about Haslam’s statewide mail piece on guns:

“As part of our continuing Heart of the Matter series, we took a look at one of the more recent Haslam mailings that focuses on gun rights as we separate fact from fiction. In that mailer, Haslam says he has kept Knoxville ‘the most gun friendly big city in Tennessee’. That claim is a stretch…

Finally, the mailer mentions Haslam’s ‘Life Membership’ in the National Rifle Association. In other fliers he’s touted a ‘Lifetime Membership.’ That claim is misleading, Haslam is a relatively new member. Haslam joined the NRA in 2009. Like most any American can, he purchased a Life Membership for $1,000. With it, he retains membership in the NRA for the rest of his life.”

“Mayor Haslam is once again trying to talk the talk on guns, but we’ve known all along that he’s never walked the walk, especially when it comes to the 2nd Amendment” said Sam Edelen, Wamp campaign spokesman.

“Mayor Haslam joined Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun group in 2006 and only quit it last year when he began running for governor. He’s pretending to be something he’s not, and Tennesseans know the difference between a real conservative like Zach and a guy who’s pretending to be one on television.”

Haslam’s latest misleading claims follow earlier efforts by his campaign to take credit for something he didn’t do. Both the Associated Press and the Knoxville-based WATE-TV recently took Haslam to task for false claims he made about job creation in a television ad, in which Haslam erroneously boasts that he “helped create more than 11,000 jobs” while working for his family’s Pilot Corporation.

WATE’s Gene Patterson, who subjected Haslam’s ad to his time-honored “Truth Test,” labeled the claim “misleading,” and the Associated Press wrote the following about Haslam’s job creation claim:

“On the campaign trail and in television ads, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam boasts of his role in creating 11,000 jobs as an executive with family-owned Pilot Corp.

Yet a count by The Associated Press shows that nearly half that many jobs were added to the Knoxville-based company’s payroll through mergers and acquisitions of other truck stop chains.

The 11,000 new jobs figure includes about 4,000 existing positions that were added through a 2001 joint venture with Marathon that re-branded 110 Speedway and Super America stores as Pilot Travel Centers. Another 1,400 were added when Pilot acquired 60 truck stops from Williams Co. in 2003.”

WATE also examined Haslam’s claim that he’s responsible for Knoxville having the “lowest property tax rate in 50 years.” Patterson also labeled that statement “misleading” and noted that during his first full year as mayor, Haslam recommended a 35-cent increase in the City’s property tax rate, adding:

“So how is it now the lowest in half a century? The campaign says it has to do with the property reappraisals of 2009. Property values went up and the tax rate went down to compensate. What the ad doesn’t say is rates have to go down by law, not by mayoral initiative.”

Press Releases

Gun Rights Advocate Backs Wamp for Governor

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 8, 2010:

CEO of Barrett Firearms says Wamp is strong on 2nd Amendment rights

NASHVILLE – Ronnie Barrett, well-known Tennessee gun rights advocate and the CEO of Barrett Firearms, today endorsed Zach Wamp for Governor.

Barrett started Barrett Firearms 28 years ago, and he has become a revered icon in the world of firearms manufacturing, and staunch defender of the second amendment.

“Whenever Tennessee sportsmen and gun owners needed a friend in Congress, Zach Wamp stood strong with us to protect and defend our 2nd Amendment rights, that’s why he’s always received an A rating from the National Rifle Association” said Barrett. “We need that same strong backbone and consistent support from our next Governor, and I’m convinced that Zach Wamp will be that man. I strongly encourage all Tennessee sportsmen and gun owners to support Zach Wamp for Governor.”

Headquartered in Murfreesboro, Barrett Firearms is the world leader in large-caliber rifle design and manufacturing. Their products are used by civilian sport shooters, law enforcement agencies. The United States military adopted the Barrett .50 caliber rifle as well as more than 50 American allied countries across the world and has been an important weapon for our fighting troops.

“I am honored to have Ronnie Barrett join our campaign for Governor,” said Wamp. “Ronnie and Barrett Firearms are a true Tennessee success stories and his endorsement is more proof of our campaign’s momentum. As Governor, I will continue my long, consistent record of fighting to protect the 2nd Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens and sportsmen.”

In February, Barrett was honored by NRA Publications with the Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award. Ronnie is a past recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine and Business Tennessee Magazine as a top entrepreneurial company. The United States Army in 2004 named the Barrett M107 as “One of the Top 10 Greatest Inventions”. The first time in history any firearm had made the list.

Ronnie has been featured on shows like 60 Minutes, Paula Zaun, Dateline, Discovery channel, History channel and Military Channel and many others. His rifles are seen in major motion pictures as well as depicted in the top rated action video games in America.

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at

Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

Gubernatorial Hopefuls Targeting Gun-Rights Cred

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp does not have a gun-carry permit.

Neither does Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. Nor does businessman Mike McWherter.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has one. But therein lies only one way of measuring the intentions of candidates who will be judged by gun-rights advocates in the race to be the next governor of Tennessee.

The three Republican gubernatorial candidates will attend a banquet of Friends of NRA, a gun rights organization, Saturday in Nashville. And the candidates’ positions on the Second Amendment are certain to get plenty of attention.

Wamp, Haslam and Ramsey are the Republicans in the race. McWherter is the lone Democrat, but McWherter will be unable to attend the event Saturday. McWherter’s staff said Tuesday that he had a prior engagement but has attended Friends of NRA events in the past, including one in Henry County a few months ago.

McWherter does have a hunting license and is a lifetime member of the NRA, his campaign said, adding that the Democrat is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and will work to ensure those rights are protected.

Wamp quickly acknowledged this week that he does not have a carry permit, although he frequently speaks in support of Second Amendment rights. Ramsey, who voted to override Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto of the guns-in-bars bill before the close of the legislative session, says he falls squarely in line with gun-rights advocates as a candidate for governor. Haslam says he doesn’t know of any differences between his positions on gun rights and the pro-gun stands of his Republican opponents, but Haslam has been criticized for some of his past positions.

Ramsey said Haslam was once a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns program. Haslam had joined the group of 700-plus mayors but left the organization saying it went astray from its original mission.

“I’m the only one to actually sponsor legislation to promote Second Amendment rights,” Ramsey said of the gubernatorial field. “Congressman Wamp and Washington, D.C. in their own way may have voted in favor of such things, but let me assure you I carried the bill that gives gun-carry permits in Tennessee. I carried the bill that kept cities and counties from suing manufacturers of firearms in the late ’90s.

“I’ve not just been one to talk the talk, I’ve walked the walk. I have a lifetime hunting license. I own lots of guns myself, because I’m a collector, and I’m a hunter.”

Ramsey won’t be outdone in voicing support for Second Amendment rights, however, if Wamp can help it.

“I have a long history of supporting gun rights,” Wamp said. “They know I’m their friend. To be honest with you, if Ron weren’t running, I would have incredible support from gun owners, gun organizations, gun activists. Frankly, they have two people in this race that have both been their faithful supporters. And as a result, they’re all out.”

Wamp was referring to Ramsey and himself as supporters and gun-rights advocates keeping their powder dry in the primary.

“That’s unfortunate, I guess, if either one of us would like to solidify that particular element of the vote, because it’s substantial in our state,” Wamp said.

Wamp said he is a longstanding gun owner.

“I’ve had many guns of all different flavors in my life. I’m an active shooter,” Wamp said. But when asked exactly what he owns, Wamp replied, “I’m like Fred Thompson. I don’t tell anybody what I have.”

Wamp has said publicly that he sleeps with a gun near his head.

“It’s in the bedside table,” he said. “I don’t mean like in bed with me. It’s within a lean and a reach.”

Haslam said he is convinced that gun-rights activists just want to know his policy convictions.

“I think the main things the NRA is concerned about is where I stand on the protection of Second Amendment rights,” Haslam said. “And I think they’re very comfortable with that. I’ve had lots of conversations, and I think they are very comfortable with my commitment to the Second Amendment.”

When asked if he could distinguish his views on guns from his opponents, Haslam said, “I don’t know that there are any big differences. I really don’t. I don’t think there’s a nickel’s worth of difference between us.”

One of the issues that has surfaced over guns is whether the state’s database on those who have gun-carry permits should be part of public record.

“We need to have the same protections on gun-carry permits we have on driver’s licenses,” Ramsey said. “They should never be allowed to be published in newspapers to search in databases. I think no public good comes out of that, yet at the same time the police departments and others should have access to those.

“But I think what that really does is proves the responsibility that handgun carry permit holders do have.”

Haslam said he doesn’t think the data should be publicly accessible.

“I don’t think so, for a lot of reasons,” he said. “I would be against that.”

Wamp said he does not want the data to be public, noting it’s an important element of the gun debate.

“Even getting a right to carry permit, pure Second Amendment protectors are concerned that once you have a right-to-carry permit the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is going to have your information about what you have,” Wamp said.

Uncompromising Second Amendment protectors believe even a right-to-carry permit is an invasion of Second Amendment rights, Wamp said. He noted the position of the underfunded fourth Republican candidate in the race, Joe Kirkpatrick, a constitutional conservative who has said the Second Amendment is itself the only right-to-carry “permit” Americans should really ever need.

Liberty and Justice News

Governor’s Guns-in-Bars Veto Gone

The Tennessee House of Representatives has joined the Senate in setting aside Gov. Phil Bredesen’s guns-in-bars veto.

Tennesseans who are legally permitted to carry firearms in public can now bring their weapons into establishments that serve alcoholic beverages — an act that was formerly prohibited in the state.

This is the second time since last year that such a bill has been passed, vetoed, then the veto overridden.

This year’s bill is in fact more permissive than that passed in 2009. It allows licensed weapons carriers to possess their firearms in bars, and not — like last year’s — just in establishments that make the majority of their revenues off food sales.

As approved, the legislation would allow owners of establishments who do not want handgun permit holders to bring their weapons into their businesses to post signs that would ban guns. They would be able to do so either by hanging up signs at entrances using the universal red circle-and-slash or by posting up a copy of the actual law.

A handgun permit holder caught drinking while packing a firearm could be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

The vote on the override measure was 61-30.

There was no discussion on the bill, which was taken after 9 p.m. and subsequent to a long day of legislative action on the House floor.

Featured News

Senate Overrides Bredesen’s Guns-in-Bars Veto

Sen. Doug Jackson went on an uninterrupted 16-minute speaking spree on the Senate floor Thursday, during which he unloaded a magazine’s worth of withering criticism at advocates of restricting the right to carry firearms for self defense.

“The problem is not law-abiding citizens with guns, the problem is criminals with guns,” said Jackson, a Democrat from Dickson. “The problem is not the gun, it is who has the gun.”

The issue at hand was the guns-in-bars legislation the Tennessee General Assembly spent much of the 2010 session reloading after a Nashville judge trigger-locked last year’s version. Gov. Phil Bredesen vetoed the latest legislation a week ago, and as expected, the Senate overrode his veto in decisive fashion Thursday, 22-10. A similar result is likely in the House, as the governor has himself said he expects.

But Jackson took the opportunity of the vote to declare the issues at stake in the debate are much broader than just the guns-in-bars matter, per se, or the governor’s veto of it.

“Can we call ourselves ‘free’ if government attempts to arbitrarily dictate how, when, where — or even if — citizens can defend themselves? Should not government have to at least establish a compelling interest to restrict fundamental rights?” Jackson asked at one point. “If not, if your answer to that question is no, then can you call it a right?”

As for the veto itself, Jackson asserted that Bredesen basically ignored the political reality that one way or another the General Assembly was again going to pass legislation allowing guns in places where people consume alcohol. He suggested the governor essentially abdicated his place at the negotiation table on the issue in favor of maintaining a dead-end public posture of intransigence.

“For two years I have asked the administration to work with us on all provisions of this bill,” Jackson said. “This session I asked the deputy governor and the director of legislative affairs to communicate with the bill sponsors and the committees on safeguards the governor referenced last year in his veto announcement.”

“I directly asked the governor personally to work with us and communicate with us what he would like to see in this legislation,” Jackson added. “To date, I have had no communication whatsoever from the administration — none about what provisions this bill should or should not have in the view of the executive branch.”

The governor’s spokeswoman, Lydia Lenker, defended her boss following Jackson’s remarks in an email to TNReport: “The Governor has clearly communicated his concerns with this legislation with the members of the General Assembly, through his public statements and through his veto messages to the House and Senate Speakers. He believes this bill violates the fundamental principle that alcohol and guns don’t mix.”

Judging by the quiet aftermath of Jackson’s take-no-prisoners rhetorical rampage, he must’ve hit some of his targets — or at least aimed true enough to startle them into hunkering down — as there wasn’t a man standing to try rebutting or deflecting any of Jackson’s hail of words.

The only Senator to even attempt returning fire was Beverly Marrero. The Memphis Democrat indicated she and the constituents for whom she speaks had taken up positions against Jackson’s bill as a result of their agreement with the notion “that it is not a good idea to have guns in bars, and places that predominately serve alcohol.”

“I think that most of my constituents agree with that premise,” said Marrero. She asked that Jackson “respect (her) right to disagree.”

During the course of his barrage, Jackson accused the governor — and others who staunchly opposed the bill — of resorting to “emotion and fear” and employing platitudes like “guns and alcohol don’t mix” in place of legitimate policy discussion rooted in facts, evidence and historical experience. He blasted his foes for cleaving to their “fundamental principle” that firearms and booze-serving establishments are incompatible with one another while ignoring that Tennesseans enjoy the “fundamental right” to defend themselves with a gun if they so choose.

They also disregarded provisions that make it illegal for a gun-carrier to consume “one drop of alcohol,” he said.

“The right of self-defense is the right that transcends any constitution and any law,” Jackson said. “So I ask, what evidence exists to justify governmental restriction on this issue? You will not find the answer to that in the veto message of the administration.”

Bredesen’s veto message, dated May 18, did contain a passage stating that while he “value(s) the constitutional right that allows me to protect my home and family…this fundamental right has long been exercised within common-sense, reasonable rules.”

“These rules don’t diminish our collective freedom, but instead ensure that this fundamental right is exercised in a manner that ensures the survival of the right itself,” Bredesen wrote.

The governor also noted that the Volunteer State has “long prohibited the possession of firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.” Bredesen proclaimed that the bill passed last year by the General Assembly was “reckless and lacking in basic safeguards to public safety.”

Rather than taking a “more responsible approach” after last year’s law was ruled unconstitutional, Bredesen continued, lawmakers “re-passed last year’s legislation in an even more expansive and dangerous form.”

He went on to urge the Legislature to “rethink the issue.”

Jackson did indeed give some indication that he’d been mulling the bill a bit lately, and the governor’s veto — along with the attached notice, which Jackson assured the Senate he’d read “very carefully.”

“Frankly, the veto notice contains clichés and conclusions, but I ask the members to look at it closely for what you do not see,” he said. “The veto notice is totally void of facts, data, statistics or information of any kind to substantiate the position of the executive branch. It shares no evidence that supports his decision to veto. ”

“The governor has asked the legislature to re-think the issue,” Jackson concluded. “I respectfully ask the executive branch to ‘think’ the issue, and I ask for your support.”