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TFA Fears GOP Will Avoid Gun Rights Legislation Again in 2012

Newsletter from the Tennessee Firearms Association; Dec. 7, 2011:

Republican Party House Caucus

After the less than triumphant 2011 Legislative session in the Tennessee House under the leadership of Speaker Beth Harwell, it appeared that perhaps the rank and file House Republicans realized the impact that their “omissions” had had on the firearms owners of Tennessee who helped put them into office. On July 13, 2011, Rep. Gerald McCormick (House Republican Caucus Leader) released a letter to caucus members in which he announced the creation of the “Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force” (for the House of Representatives). That letter provides (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. That communication outlined the issues that TFA has focused on during the last 16 years and also the issues on which we had prioritized some legislative focus.

Recently, TFA was asked if we had looked forward to progress with Republican control of state government in 2011 as a “perfrect storm” and by most respects one could say that in 2010 that was the perspective and hope for 2011. TFA had hope that the years of promises from the Republican leadership would materialize. Indeed, Tennesseans have been told by Speaker Harwell that the House Republican Caucus is 100% for the Second Amendment. But, sadly, we knew from her own votes that this could not be true. We can look at what was introduced and failed to pass in 2011 in the House to gauge the factual accuracy of her assertion. We can now look back at 2011 and assess that the predicted “perfect storm” was perhaps a drizzle at best. It does have to be viewed with rememberance of who is in leadership. At this point, we can look forward with caution to 2012 to see if 2011 was a mere oversight or whether it was an intended disregard of prior political promises.

Nevertheless, as the July announcement of the House Republican caucus task force was made, the announcement itself gave some evidence that Rep. McCormick was aware of 2011, the response of Tennessee’s gun owners to the 2011 legislative events, and the need to take seriously the task of evaluated state law in light of the constitutionally protected rights of citizens. TFA realized that the actions of this task force concerning how seriously it undertakes the task of removing infringements and enabling law abiding citizens to purchase, own, possess, carry, use, hunt with and recreationally enjoy firearms as well as the actions of the Republican Caucus in response to the task force’s anticipated report would be a benchmark for the 2012 legislative session as well as the 2012 elections.

The initial meeting of the task force was cancelled almost immediately after the chairman of the task force was arrested in Nashville on DUI charges and also charged with possession of a handgun while under the influence of alcohol. Most unfortunate from many perspectives.

News reports (e.g., Chattanooga Times Free Press) initially indicated that Rep. McCormick was going to cancel the task force. Then, within a few days, news reports stated that Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, who has a solid record supporting Second Amendment rights, had offered to chair the task force and continue with the mission. It was said that the task force would meet at some point after Thanksgiving. Although TFA’s leadership had been in contact with ALL task force members, none of them notified TFA’s leadership that the task force had scheduled a meeting for Monday following Thanksgiving. One TFA director received a call sometime on the Sunday perhaps less than 24 hours prior to the meeting and was able to make arrangements to be there. However, there was NO general notice that the task force was meeting and it was poorly attended. It was not video streamed. It met briefly and was only partially attended by those appointed to serve on it. It has been reported that one or more additional meetings should be held. This effort, at this point, pales in comparision to the kinds of meetings that were held back in the 1996 time frame when the Speaker’s office directed that the House Judiciary actually conduct hearings and a study on fixing the handgun permit law.

So, as mid-December is upon us, the constitutionally based conservatives in Tennessee, Tennessee’s firearms owners, and those who had worked to place perceived conservatives in office, the image of what 2012 might bring is starting to emerge like a prophecy from the fog of the future and it seems disappointingly reflective of what happened in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2012. Perhaps that is exactly the commandment coming from the Speaker’s office and from some of the others in leadership.

Rather than a year of legislative success, 2012 may well turn into a year where once again constitutionally based conservatives will be looking for candidates in primaries and general elections who will – independent of party designation – honor, uphold and respect not only the constitutions but the rights that these constitutions themselves recognize as pre-existing and otherwise established.

A word of clarification — there are some members of the legislature, including some in leadership, who feel that TFA and gunowners are being unfair on Republicans. They assert that the Republican caucuses are the “best friend” of Tennessee’s conservatives, gun owners and even TFA. By “best friend”, they may really mean “better than the Democrat caucus”. It is perfectly clear by their own actions which individuals in the General Assembly and other parts of state government are truly conservatives who take the oath to uphold the Constitution – all of the Constitution – as a bedrock on which the sacrifices of public service and stewardship must be based. It is also abundantly clear which individuals in state government are not “100%” behind the Second Amendment and instead use it perhaps as nothing more than a part of the campaign “toolkit” to get and keep political power.

Gun Show Promoter Declares “Gun Show Loophole” Exists

This week, the Tennessean and local news stations have been giddy with reports that a former gun show promoter and Second Amendment advocate has announced that there is in fact a “gun show loophole” and has asserted that the State of Tennessee must take steps to close it.

Actually, the law is clear that there is no “loophole”. What some people are falsely calling a “loophole” is actually the application of what is commonly referred to under both federal and state law as the “casual sale exception.” Under the law, individuals and entities who are “in the business” of dealing in firearms are required to have a federal firearms license. Under the law, only those individuals who are federally licensed can and are required to do “Brady” background checks when they make retail sales of firearms to individuals or entities that do not have federal dealer licenses. As part of the law, the policy decision was made and has existed for a long time that there is no constitional (“commerce clause”) or policy basis to require private citizens who are not “in the business” of dealing in firearms to perform formal background checks when they transfer (including sales, trades and gifts) personal firearms.

The gun show loophole is frequently cited by gun-control groups as a basis to end or more heavily regulate gun shows. The gun control advocates claim that guns are sold at shows without the required background checks and/or that criminals often use these shows to acquire guns illegally. However, gun shows are regulated in the same manner as all other gun sales. Federally licensed firearms dealers, who by far are the actual sellers of the firearms at gun shows, are required by law to perform the Brady / FBI background checks before selling them a firearm to an individual. This requirement applies no matter where the sale takes place – including gun shows. As noted above, those who are not firearms dealers (licensed or unlicensed) are not required to perform the background check. Consequently, if a private individual wants to sell their gun collection, he or she can rent a table at a gun show (if the promoter allows unlicensed individuals to rent tables) and they are subject to the same laws as if they sold the gun online, in a newspaper ad, to a hunting buddy or at a garage sale.

Gun control groups suggest that criminals prefer to get guns at gun shows and that closing the “loophole” is really just good crime prevention. However, government statistics actually prove that the number of criminals who get guns at gun shows is statistically insignificant. Bureau of Justice statistics show that less than .7% of criminals get their guns at gun shows. In the statistics, most criminals (78.8%) get their guns off the street or from family members. So, the real target, the primary victim of the “gun show loophole” claims are the law-abiding gun owners and enthusiasts.

This week’s news reports proclaim that former gun show promoter, Bob Pope, is himself proposing that there is a “gun show loophole” and that the State of Tennessee needs to pass legislation requiring that all individuals who do not have a federal firearms license would be prohibited from selling personal firearms at or about gun shows unless they do a TBI background check on the proposed purchaser. It raises the questionof whether this is sadly more 2nd Amendment infringements from a former promoter or perhaps just a means of protecting the financial interests of those licensed dealers who pay gun show promoters for tables?

It is interesting that on one of the TV news reports, the other person interviewed was a gun store owner – someone who might benefit at a gun show from eliminating or minimizing the ability of private citizens to engage in “casual sales”. Chris Tenpenny at Nashville Sporting Arms apparently supports Bob Pope’s idea that the casual sale exception which has been a part of federal law since, well since federal law starting regulating the sales of firearms, should be amended to require that all sales of guns by individuals must go through background checks – at least if the individual wants to sell a personal firearm in or at a gun show.

Channel 5 news in Nashville ran this story:

http://www.newschannel5.com/story/16192 … -criminals

by Amanda Hara

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Are gun shows a gateway for criminals to buy firearms? One local man thinks so.

For more than two decades, Bob Pope ran gun shows in the Mid-state.

But now he’s asking for a new law that would make sure convicted felons aren’t buying guns, or unloading stolen ones, at gun shows.

Bob Pope started running gun shows in 1983, and retired in 2008. During that time, he said he noticed a major flaw in the industry.

“If I was a criminal and I wanted to buy a high powered glock I would go to the Gun Show,” said Pope.

Pope said felons show up at gun shows to buy firearms; not from dealers who require a background check, but from other patrons of the show because they know a background check isn’t required for a private party sale.

Pope proposed a new law that would require background checks on any gun sale at gun shows, even transactions between private parties. Not just to prevent felons from getting guns, but also to protect buyers.

“I like that I do not wish to buy a stolen gun because in the future I could lose that gun if I ever had it run I could lose the gun,” said Pope.

Local gun dealers seemed on board with the proposal.

Chris Tenpenny owns Nashville Sporting Arms.

“The background check is not just a thing that’s done on the individual it’s also running the background history on the gun. The last thing I’d want to do is go to a gun show and buy a gun from an individual that was used in a crime or was stolen. You don’t know anything about that gun or where it came from,” he said.

Of course none of this is going over well with some gun advocates

But Pope said he’s as pro-gun as they come and a strong advocate of the second amendment.

Pope said, “This deal is a crime prevention thing that makes sure convicted felons are not buying their guns illegally that’s all it is.”

Pope said he’d like to see Gun Show Organizers pay the TBI to set up one agent at every show who background checks every gun that’s bought and sold. Pope said those with Carry Permits would be exempt from paying a $10 fee for the check.

Similarly, the Tennessean newspaper reported this week that Bob Pope has met with Congressman Jim Cooper (oh, another noted supporter of the Second Amendment) to discuss his proposal to close the “loophole”. Gail Kerr, of the Tennessan, reported in her column:

Let there be no doubt: Bob Pope is a gun-packing Republican. The sixth-generation Tennessean is a Newt Gingrich-supporting Second Amendment advocate who ran gun shows for 25 years.

But he said his buddies in the Tennessee Firearms Association are irritated by his one-man campaign to close the so-called “gun show loophole,” which he claims allows murderers and thieves to buy stolen guns.

“If I was going to buy an illegal gun, I’d go to a gun show and buy it,” said Pope, a towering man perched on an old-fashioned wing chair in the formal living room of his Hermitage home near the Wilson County line.

The two-story Colonial stays locked behind a wrought-iron driveway gate sporting decorative replicas of handguns. Clocks bong the hour. Bright-colored silk roses are perched in a vase. Pope looked like John Wayne visiting his grandmother’s parlor as he explained his plan.

He met with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper but decided his best bet was with the state legislature. He has meetings set up with GOP lawmakers. Given a chance, he’d testify.

“I started doing gun shows in 1983, sold out in 2008,” Pope said. “I saw the gun shows change, really not for the good.”

The three-day shows, held at expos and fairgrounds, allow dealers and individuals to buy, sell and trade guns.

“Currently, I would estimate, on the low side, there are over 100 gun shows across the state of Tennessee every year,” Pope said. “On the low side, there are 1,000 guns without any records sold at every show, every day.”

There’s no way to prove that, because statistics on those sales don’t exist.

Licensed dealers are allowed to buy and sell at the shows. If you buy a gun from them, they run a check with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to make sure that you are at least 18 and not a felon, and that the gun was not stolen. This costs the buyer $10.

But if an individual sells a gun to a buyer at a gun show, there are no checks. That’s the loophole Pope wants changed. Every gun sale at a show should require the duel TBI check, he says.

Pope says the system allows people who break into houses and steal guns to easily resell them. It allows felons to buy guns.

Not ‘gun control’ but ‘crime control’

“I’m hard-core Second Amendment,” said Pope, a boisterous and opinionated man. “But I also believe citizens should be able to walk around or sit on their front porch without bullets flying.”

Criminals, he said, “should not have guns. This tells the purchaser at a gun show he’s buying a clean gun. It tells felons to find somewhere else to go.”

The money from the $10 fee would pay for the TBI to do the extra checks, he said.

“It’s the only way you can control gun violence in this state.”

The Republican-led legislature has a task force about to debate a slew of gun laws. Most would loosen things up.

As far as Pope is concerned, legal owners should be able to carry their gun anywhere they want. But the gun show loophole needs to be closed.

Isn’t that somewhat ironic? He doesn’t see it.

“What I’m talking about hasn’t a darn thing to do with gun control,” Pope said. “It has to do with crime control.”

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111205/COLUMNIST0101/312050031/Gail-Kerr-Ex-gun-show-operator-trains-sights-loophole-

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Press Releases

GOP Firearms Task Force Announced

Press Release from House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, July 13, 2011:

Majority Leader Gerald McCormick Appoints GOP Firearms Issue Task Force

(July 13, 2011, NASHVILLE) – On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R—Chattanooga) announced the appointment of seven Members of the House of Representatives to the Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force. The group is charged with “studying current State laws to identify if any changes may need to be made” and will meet with outside groups to “gain a better understanding” of the issues surrounding the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans.

Representative Curry Todd (R—Collierville) was named the Chairman of the Task Force. Additionally, Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny (R—Tullahoma), Representative Joshua Evans (R—Greenbrier), Representative Andy Holt (R—Dresden), Representative Barrett Rich (R—Somerville), Representative Glen Casada (R—Franklin), and Representative John Forgety (R—Athens) were named to the group. The Task Force intends to meet when other scheduled legislative committees meet such as the Fiscal Review Committee or summer study groups meet.

“This Task Force will study ways we can protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and will make recommendations to our Majority about good public policy we all can support,” said Majority Leader McCormick. “I think this is a worthwhile effort to streamline the process and build consensus within the General Assembly. I look forward to hearing what Chairman Todd and the group report back to us.”

Rep. Todd explained, “It is an honor to lead this working group so our Majority can craft responsible public policy that reflects the values of Tennesseans. This group will work hard to make common sense recommendations to the Majority in order to build consensus about what our legislative priorities for firearms need to be next session. ”

Rep. Rich added, “This group will examine all perspectives on the issues surrounding firearms and the Second Amendment and that is always good for public policy. Tennessee is well-known as a State that promotes responsible firearm ownership and we need to make sure our laws reflect that principle. I will always advocate for our law-abiding citizens’ right to own a gun and this is a way to do just that.”

“This is a unique way for us to hear directly from Tennesseans about how we can protect and potentially strengthen their gun rights,” said Rep. Holt. “I believe we can build consensus by bringing all sides together and creating sensible policy proposals from their feedback.”

Leader McCormick announced the appointments in a letter to all Members of the House Republican Majority. The full text of the letter is below:

July 13, 2011 

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.

Sincerely,

Gerald McCormick

 

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Press Releases

TN Right to Life: ‘The People Will Have Their Say’

Press Release from Tennessee Right to Life, May 24, 2011:

More than a decade after the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a wrong and radical ruling claiming a ‘fundamental’ right to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution, bi-partisan super majorities in the General Assembly have sent the matter for Tennesseans to decide in a public vote during the next governor’s election in 2014.

“At long last the people of Tennessee will have their say in this matter of life and death,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “Should a handful of activist judges make Tennessee’s laws on abortion or should it be the people acting through their elected representatives in the state Legislature? We are confident that when it’s all said and done, the power for deciding such questions will be returned to the people,” Harris said.

As required for every proposed amendment to the state Constitution, SJR 127 passed for the first time in 2009 by votes of 77-21 in the state House and 23-9 in the state Senate. Requirement for super-majority during second passage was achieved in 2011 by votes of 76-18 in the state House and 24-8 in the state Senate. Click here to view video of the Tennessee House discussion and final vote.

SJR 127 by Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet), the resolution calling for a public voters to approve inclusion of the following language in the Tennessee Constitution:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

As written the proposed amendment does not criminalize abortion but overturns the Court’s pro-abortion ruling, returns the Tennessee Constitution to a position of neutrality on abortion and allows the people of the state and their elected legislators to again enact meaningful protections for women and unborn children in our state.

While the Court’s 2000 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist makes it impossible to enforce protections that violate the state’s newly discovered ‘right to abortion,’ Tennessee Right to Life has encouraged passage of policies which do not directly challenge the Court’s holding. Several such pro-life protections were passed by overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in the final days of the legislative session including:

State Budget Amendment to Bar Funding for Planned Parenthood by Senators Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), and Lt. Gov. Ramsey (R-Blountville.) Further tightens 2009 effort by requiring that federal Title X family planning funds shall be used fully by local, county or municipal health departments and that no funds shall be disbursed to private non-profit organizations or agencies. Diverts $1.2 million tax dollars from Planned Parenthood affiliates in Nashville and Memphis. Passed unanimously as part of final budget approval.

Expansion of Tennessee’s Unborn Victims of Violence Act by Rep. Joshua Evans (R-Springfield) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet.) Extends current state law to include unborn children prior to viability as victims of assault or homicide. Previous statute was only enforceable following establishment of child’s viability. Passed House 80-0 and Senate 26-0.

Ban on Webcam Abortions in Tennessee by Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City.) Brought in response to Planned Parenthood’s aggressive plan for inducing RU 486 abortions through Internet connections without a physician present. In Iowa trials more than 2,000 such abortions have already been performed with plans for expanding the practice in “underserved” and rural areas throughout the country. Passed House 86-6 and Senate 29-1.

House Resolution Honoring the Work of Life Affirming Pregnancy Resource Centers by Rep. Jim Gotto (R-Hermitage) Passed unanimously and without debate by the full House 95-0.

Categories
Press Releases

TFA: Republicans Broke Their Promises

Press Release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; May 3, 2011:

Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.

Status of Firearms and Conservative Legislation

The 2011 session is drawing to an end as the committees are starting to wrap up their business and close. The message for Tennessee’s firearms owners, for Tennessee’s hunters, for Tennessee’s Tea Party members, for Tennessee’s conservatives and constitutionalists is that this is not a year in which promises made that existing infringements on firearms owners and citizens would be repealed, withdrawn or acceptably addressed. That message must be burned into our memories much as the Ten Commandments were burned into tablets of stone by God for Moses so that our actions in 2012 can be governed by historical fact.

This is particularly troubing since the Republicans have overwhelming control of both houses of the General Assembly as well as a Governor who has promised on video to TFA members that he would sign a law repealing the necessity that citizens obtain expensive and costly “permits” in order to exercise the rights guaranteed to them by the Tennessee Constitution and the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution (through the 14th Amendment). The Republicans, and many of them would, have full power and capacity to fix these issues. However, it is apparent that Republican leadership, particularly or more specifically in the House, is unwilling to have these promises materialize.

Now, it must be noted, however, that this is not solely a Republican issue notwithstanding the fact that the Republican party was fully empowered by the citizens of this State in 2010 to honor these promises. There are many, many in the House and some in the Senate who are simply not going to support Tennessee’s citizens as firearms owners, as constitutionalists or as conservatives.

There are two specific bills which can be examined to support these statements.

House Bill 1072 – Special “Classes” of Citizens?

A first example arises out of Tennessee’s citizens and the Tennessee Firearms Association having a long history of opposing any legislation which has the effect of creating different classes of civilians with respect to the right of self-defense and the capacity to carry firearms as civilians. This most commonly arises under the theme of making special exceptions to the general firerams possessions laws and self-defense laws for classes of “off duty” individuals including police officers, law enforcement officers, and various state and local officials (including judges and district attorneys).

Most commonly, this issue arises, as it did today, when a legislator or law enforcement officer proclaims that “off duty officers have a duty to protect others.” That assertion is simply false. Indeed, even on-duty officers have no specific duty to intervene and protect anyone – period. That issue has been addressed repeatedly by the courts and repeatedly is has been stated that there is no duty of any on or off duty law enforcement officer to render aid to stop a crime in any specific instance. Simple Google the issue. One of the more recent Supreme Court cases on this issue is Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 04-278 (opinion). See also, DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 109 S.Ct. 998 (1989).

With respect to Tennessee specifically, Tennessee recognizes the “public duty” rule. Under that rule, law enforcement owe a general duty to the public only. “In the absence of special circumstances, there is no duty resting upon a municipality or other governmental body to provide police protection to any particular person, and it may not be held liable for its failure to do so.” Seidner v. Metropolitan Gov’t, No. 01A01-9012-CV-00451, 1991 WL 66440, at *4 (Tenn.App. May 1, 1991).

Furthermore, the Tennessee Supreme Court has rejected the assertion that police officers are “on duty” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To the contrary, the court has noted that off duty officers are simply citizens like any other citizen and have no special privileges or duties. “…., while most states decline to impose vicarious liability on private employers because police officers have a continuous duty to keep the peace and enforce the law, we can find no corresponding statute or rule of law in this state that places a mandatory duty upon police officers to keep the peace when “off duty.” To the contrary, when officers are “off duty,” our statutes generally treat the officer as an ordinary private citizen and not as an agent or employee of the municipal police department under a general duty to keep the peace.”

White v. Revco Discount Drug Centers, Inc., 33 S.W.3d 713, 721 (Tenn.,2000.) (emphasis added)

Thus, the assertions of the FOP and those supportive of law enforcement that off duty or even retired law enforcement should be entitled to a special class of citizenship vis-a-vis the right of self-defense fails because the premise on which the argument is based is contrary to the law that these law enforcement interests have pursued when individual liability was at issue. They cannot have it both ways.

It is not that TFA is anti-law enforcement. TFA is however against the creation of special classes of citizenship when it comes to the fundamental right of self-defense but that, it seems, is something that does not bother many of our elected legislators.

Against this backdrop, we have HB 1072 by Rep. Barrett Rich and its companion Senate bill SB 0839 by Sen. Mike Bell. On May 3, the House Judiciary approved HB1072 on a voice vote. The bill creates a special class of “civilians”, again off duty law enforcement, who can come and go as they pleased while fully armed on school grounds whereas “ordinary” citizens (those with civilian carry permits) are not treated as the same class of citizens. This legislation continues to evidence a willingness and a mentality of those in the legislature that “off duty” officers have higher duties than civilians and are entitled to a higher degree to latitude in providing for their self-defense and the defense of their families.

If you feel that all citizens should have the same rights relative to self-defense, then you may not support this bill. If you feel that there should not be “special classes” of citizens relative to the issue of self-defense and personal defense, then you may not support this bill. If you do not agree with HB1072 / SB0839 then you should contact your elected officials as well as the bills’ sponsors and let them know how you feel about the Legislature continually trying to create these special classes and special exceptions. All citizens should be treated the same when they are “off duty” without regard to what their job is or was. House Bill 2021 – Employee Self Defense or Big Business

The second bill that deserves attention is HB2021 (Rep. Joshua Evans). This is the “promised” legislation that would have protected employees with civilian handgun permits from being criminally prosecuted or terminated from employment “for cause” if they commuted to work in possession of their handgun and left that firearm secured in their car in the parking lot.

As previously reported, the bill made it to the House Floor and, just prior to being amended to restore the protection to the employees, was moved back to the House Judiciary Committee by the sponsor (Evans) because the bill, as it was on the floor, only granted immunity to those businesses – it offered no protections for the employees. The House Republicans had been heavily lobbied by business and had backed away from their prior promises to employees and voters.

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary on May 3. Several TFA members from across the state took time off and came to Nashville to be present. The House Sponsor (Evans) was not to be found. He did not respond to text messages. Ultimately, the bill was referred by the Judiciary committee to its general subcommittee thereby effectively killing it this year.

Once again, promises are unfulfilled as the desires of “big business” take precedence with the House leadership, which is overwhelmingly Republican. All firearms owner, all hunters, all Tea Partiers, all conservatives should be demanding of the House Republicans to know why promises made are not promises kept. They should also be sternly reminded that votes in 2010 do not necessarily equal repeat votes in 2012.