Press Releases

TFA Encourages Supporters of Gun Rights to Campaign for Lt. Col. Rogers

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 23, 2012: 

Debra Maggart is the number one race in Tennessee this year for those of us who see a necessity in reclaiming state government from those who pretend to be constitutionally based conservatives. Incumbent Maggart has lined up Gov. Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and “Lear Jet” loads of Big Business operatives to support her claim that she is “entitled” to be re-elected.

Voters need to stand up to these interests and say, “No, Debra, you are not entitled.”

As a member or supporter of TFA, you are being given an opportunity to give one morning, or for some one more morning, of your time to engage and make a difference to help Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers who is running in the 45th District for State Representative against Debra Maggart.

Even though many of us can’t vote in the 45th District, we as individuals and as a grassroots group can help in this race to elect Lt. Col. Rogers to change Tennessee’s Capital Hill. Grassroots organizations across Tennessee, including TFA, Tea Party groups, the Tennessee Republican Assembly and the NRA with its 100,000+ members in the state are joining forces to focus specifically on electing Lt. Col. Rogers and defeating Debra Maggart. Defeating not just Debra Maggart but also making a public and specific example of her and what she stands for in terms of a condescending, “for sale” legislator.

We must demand constitutional leadership from all elected officials including those in state and local leadership. What we are seeing is too many legislators place too much value on the money that they think gets them re-elected and too little value on their oaths to uphold and strengthen the constitutions, or the rights vested and protected, therein.

TFA has or will invest over $15,000 in the race to elect Lt. Col. Rogers and defeat Maggart. Many TFA members have already driven from as far as Memphis to come work “on the ground” to knock doors and speak with local voters.

Saturday July 28 is the last Saturday before the primary. This is a call to action for all TFA members and supporters to come and spend a day, even a few hours if that is all you have, to help this citizen patriot veteran candidate prevail in this battle that has at its very core the fact that too many in the General Assembly, including Debra Maggart herself, are for sale to the highest bidder and have all but abandoned the constitutional oath that they took when first elected.

Gather a car load and car pool, bus, RV, pick-up truck, motorcycle caravan or even by horseback, just get to Goodlettsville on Saturday July 28th for a pre-election sign waving day. Wear your TFA shirts and hats. If you do not have them, we should have some available that morning. Bring water and other items for a few hours as a volunteer.

There will be a group, probably being directed by Mike Rogers, in the parking lot at “Big K” at 230 Long Hollow Pike, Goodlettsville, Tennessee that will be organizing the volunteers that morning. Arrive as early as possible but any time between 9:00am and 1:00pm to get location assignments, signs and push cards. You will be assigned to an intersection or other location from that point.

Please RSVP to johnharris AT so that we can advise the campaign how many 2nd Amendment supporters to expect.

Press Releases

TFA: State Using Tax Dollars to Suppress Rights?

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; May 25, 2012:

Are Taxpayer Dollars being used by government officials to suppress and infringe 2nd Amendment and other civil rights?

It is a serious question and can be a crime under some circumstances.

In Tennessee government, including the General Assembly, it is not uncommon to see evidence of situations where taxpayer dollars and even “charitable” contributions to government affiliated nonprofits are being used by lobbyists and in some instances government officials to advocate against the civil rights of citizens. For example, associations like the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police are comprised of voting members who are full time government officials. Presumably, those officials have their membership “dues” paid by their departments which clearly are funded with taxpayer dollars. When such an organization then uses taxpayer dollars to lobby against 2nd Amendment legislation or when those public officials go to the legislature in uniform to lobby while being paid by taxpayers (as opposed to taking vacation or personal time) are they engaging in a pattern of conduct that might be classified as “official oppression”? This potential raises serious questions about when, where and under what circumstances is it appropriate for public officials – who are not elected as policy makers like legislators – to spend time “on the clock” to lobby on policy issues that are based on fundamental constitutional rights of citizens?

A related issue was recently addressed by Jeff Knox in an article.

Cities around the country have created staff positions for professional lobbyists whose primary function is to drum up support for anti-gun legislation, ordinances and regulations. Part of these lobbyists salaries are being paid by grants from do-gooder foundations like the Joyce Foundation, but the balance of salaries, benefits and support costs are being borne by you, the taxpayer.

An associate of mine in Florida named Sean Caranna was doing some research for his grassroots rights organization, Florida Carry, Inc., when he came across something on the agenda of the Orlando City Council that he immediately recognized as a serious problem.

The item was for the renewal of a contract for a city employee. That’s mundane enough, but the job title of this particular employee was “Mayors Against Illegal Guns regional coordinator,” and the job description is to “play an integral role in the coordination and planning of gun crime prevention and illegal gun-related initiatives, events and media opportunities in the city and in the region” (the full council agenda and detailed information can be found on the City of Orlando website).

In the case of Orlando, the grant is $60,000 from something called the “United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund,” which appears to be a front group set up by billionaire mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg – the creator of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The Joyce Foundation provides the primary funding for Bloomberg’s “support fund” to the tune of $650,000 in 2011 and at least $1,000,000 more in the previous 3 years.

While the grant to Orlando pays the bulk of the regional coordinator’s salary, the city is allocating $24,000 of citizen’s money to fund the position and providing other city resources and facilities for her use. The person tapped for the job is a woman who has worked as a regional coordinator for the Brady Campaign Against Guns, and as a professional lobbyist for MAIG and several other groups.

In essence, the city is paying $24,000 to have an anti-rights organization’s lobbyist working in their offices and pretending to be a city employee.

After discovering this scam in Orlando, Caranna began digging deeper and found similar sweetheart deals in several other cities around the country, including Seattle, Milwaukee, Columbus and Minneapolis. Based solely on the funding numbers from the Joyce Foundation, there should be at least 10 of these regional coordinators around the country – working against rights and being compensated in part by taxpayers.

Finding them all has proven to be a bit of a challenge, as no one from MAIG, Joyce or the Support Fund seems interested in advertising the coordinators’ existence. Caranna found, and my own research confirms, that some cities try to keep their participation in the scheme on the down low by using initials or euphemistic titles and job descriptions, but now that we know about the scam, I don’t think it will take long to expose most all of the pseudo-city employees. With more than a million and a half dollars granted to the project over the past 4 years by the Joyce Foundation alone, there has to be a money trail to follow. We also know all 600 mayors involved in MAIG and will be scouring the books of each of them looking for traces of this scheme.

I’m asking all of the members of The Firearms Coalition and all of my readers to help us locate these taxpayer funded anti-rights lobbyists. You can find a list of all of the participating mayors on the MAIG website and then launch your own investigation into any of them you choose.

While we’re at it, let’s look into this whole concept of private grants funding, and influencing, public policy. On its surface, the idea of a charitable group helping a municipality do some public service seems reasonable; a family group might support municipal preschool and after school programs, for instance. But if that group has a political agenda, or demands inclusion of a controversial curriculum, the “gift” becomes questionable.

From one side these grants look like a way for the charitable group to make their dollars go further while helping a city reach its goals, but it is also a way for a pressure group to get public funding for their agenda.

Imagine the uproar if a city created a staff position for the promotion of firearm safety training with funding from the NRA Foundation. Even if the program focused solely on safety and never crossed into the rights issue or promotion of firearms ownership, the media and hoplophobes would go ballistic.

The very innocuous and apolitical Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program, with coloring books and video cartoons teaching kids that if they come across a gun they should “Stop – Don’t Touch – Leave the Area – and Tell an Adult,” comes under fire because it is given to schools and police departments free by the NRA Foundation.

Public-private partnerships can be good things, but local politicians need to be extremely cautious about giving the keys to the city to any outside group whose altruism might be driven by a political or social agenda. The old adage of never looking a gift horse in the mouth does not apply in civic matters – just ask the Trojans. It is very tempting to a politician to be able to offer constituents some valuable service at a fraction of its normal cost, so it’s up to the citizens to be attentive and keep their politicians on the straight and narrow.

For those who might not know, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a political group formed by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. It has an agenda almost identical to that of the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun groups, but it goes to great lengths to make its proposals seem reasonable and moderate when, in fact, they are intended to make firearms ownership more difficult and dangerous. Bloomberg has spent millions of dollars from his own very deep pockets and the pockets of New York taxpayers to advance his agenda and is receiving additional millions from the Joyce Foundation – the same Joyce Foundation that gave Barack Obama a paid directorship as a stepping-stone into politics.

This scandal will be unfolding for weeks, and probably years, to come. The more information we can dig up on the MAIG employees infiltrating municipal government, the better chance we will have of putting a stop to this theft of taxpayer money. Check your local government for any private-public partnership grant programs – particularly programs funded by MAIG – and let me know what you find. Together we can pull the mask off of this beast and return control of municipal government to the people who live there.

Press Releases

A TFA History Lesson on Guns-in-Lots

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 26, 2012:

House Leadership and Republican Caucus using misleading statements for cover to distract public from their true motives.

Roll Back History…

First, this bill has been pending and debated in the legislature since at least 2009. That is a period of four years.

April 27, 2011. The 2011 version of a Safe Commute law was scheduled for a floor vote. It was carried by Republican Joshua Evans. It was not endorsed by NRA or TFA at the time. It was permissive. It did not require employers to allow safe storage. What it did was gave civil immunity to those employers who voluntarily allowed it. On the House Floor, Rep. Bass moved to make the bill mandatory. When he did, Rep. Evans moved to “table” the proposed amendment which is a kind way of testing the votes to defeat it. Of those voting to kill the Bass amendment, 33 were Republicans (in bold):


Present and not voting…………………..5

Representatives voting aye were: Brooks H, Brooks K, Butt, Carr, Casada, Coley, Dennis, Dunn, Eldridge, Ford, Harrison, Haynes, Hurley, Keisling, Kernell, Lundberg, Marsh, Matlock, McCormick, McManus, Miller D, Montgomery, Odom, Powers, Ramsey, Roach, Sargent, Sexton, Shipley, Sparks, Weaver, Williams R, Wirgau, Womick, Madam Speaker Harwell — 35.

Representatives voting no were: Alexander, Armstrong, Bass, Brown, Camper, Cobb, Cooper, Curtiss, Dean, DeBerry J, Favors, Fitzhugh, Floyd, Forgety, Gotto, Halford, Hardaway, Harmon, Hensley, Holt, Johnson C, Johnson P, Jones, Lollar, Matheny, McDaniel, McDonald, Miller L, Moore, Naifeh, Niceley, Parkinson, Pitts, Pody, Rich, Richardson, Sanderson, Shaw, Shepard, Sontany, Stewart, Swann, Tidwell, Tindell, Todd, Towns, Turner J, Turner M, Watson, Williams K, Windle — 51.

Representatives present and not voting were: Campbell, Faison, Gilmore, Hill, Ragan — 5.

To be fair, many of those Republicans who voted to kill the NRA and TFA endorsed “Bass amendment” later claimed that they did not know what they were voting on – they merely followed the “leader” of the legislation and did what he wanted. Many later denied knowing that they were voting against the NRA. What is it Pelosi said, “we have to pass it before we will know what is in it….” Their job is to make and cast knowing and intelligent votes. Blindly following a leader is nothing but partisanship allegiance – not stewardship.

In response to the backlash from the anti-2nd Amendment stunt on the House floor last year, Rep. Gerald McCormick tried to “appease”, some might say trick, constitutional conservatives. Shortly thereafter, McCormick issued the following press release on July 13, 2011, in which he announced the creation of the House “Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force” 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.

Insofar as can be determined, no other such taskforce was announced by House Leadership. What is important however is that this task force was later canceled by McCormick and then revived when Rep. Matheny said he would go forward with it. It’s meetings were not publicly announced and to our knowledge there was only 1 meeting with about 3 of the public in attendance. Nothing was studied. The meeting was brief. There has been no public report of the meeting. There was clearly no legislative agenda – other than stall and avoid – by the House Republican leadership or caucus that followed.

The path of House leadership and sadly Senate leadership this year has been to preclude full public hearings and floor votes on these issues. The reason is singular. They know that the rank and file members support and will pass this legislation. The leadership cannot allow that. We can infer that leadership’s resistence is most probably due to financial support and reciprocal commitments to Big Business.

In 2012, this bill has been a news topic almost constantly. It has been hotly debated in every committee charged with considering it on the merits. On April 25, 2012, the bill was once again a hot topic. Channel 5 news interviewed McCormick. He said the 2nd Amendment is an important issue and needs to be balanced against property rights. He claimed, after a house calendar committee on which he served, voted to kill the bill by sending it to a non-existent “summer study” that it needed to be taken seriously. He did not tell the reporter that his caucus had met over the weekend and allegedly voted to avoid any recorded vote on this legislation. [That pronouncement however did not align well with emails and verbal assurances from many of the individual Republican caucus member.] He did not tell the reporter that he had established a task force within the caucus last year to study firearms issues – including this one – or that the task force was a mere sham. He did not tell the reporter of the extensive history of debate, testimony and study on this bill and sadly the reporter did not have either the knowledge or willingness to question him on his misleading statements. Sadly, McCormick’s statements are too similar to the statements surrounding the Christmas tree theft in the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when the Grinch was caught and needed to offer an excuse – even one devoid of the truth:

The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.

She stared at the Grinch and said “Cindy-Lou Who: Santy Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick. He thought up a lie, he thought it up quick!

Watch the Channel 5 video — if its still available.

The simple fact is that Republican leadership has represented to the voters that the “members” are opposed to the bill as it now exists because it is too broad. Really? If that is the case, bring it to the floor and let the members themselves amend it and pass it. Leadership will refuse to do that because they know with almost certainty that the rank and file members do support the bill and will enact it largely as is. The refusal of leadership to let this bill see the light of day on the respective floors for debate, amendment or votes tells the public volumes regarding the statements that have been made concerning where the legislators – all of them – are on this bill and who really are anti-2nd Amendment.

Press Releases

TFA: GOP Leadership Stalling on Guns-in-Lots Legislation

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 20, 2012:

Let us pause for a moment to consider where we are on the Employee Safe Commute bills as the General Assembly may be entering is last week of session.

There are sometimes at least 2 paths for citizens to collectively petition their government – working with legislators on an “access” model and working on an “accountability” model. Early on, TFA tried the access model with Democratic leadership in the House and learned long ago that access only worked as long as leadership felt they needed your help and assistance to make the right decisions. When leadership had no interest in listening to the citizens or were more interested in interest groups, such as unions or Big Business, the voices of citizens and constitutional standards became less compelling.

Speaker Naifeh got to a point where he and his immediate supporters did not want or need the support of firearms owners, including the TFA. During that time, Republicans were in a minority status and were supportive of the work of TFA to target Democratic leadership and those whom were at that time the “shadow operatives” of leadership who worked to kill bills without recorded floor votes. For example, Speaker Naifeh specifically created the “Constitutional Protections Subcommittee” in the House Judiciary and packed it with the specific purpose to bottle up and defeat firearms related bills without exposing his caucus to recorded votes. Republicans were giddy when TFA targeted legislators, such as Bobby Sands, and helped to defeat him with heavy pressure, reports of his votes and committee comments and even invested in phone banking.

When Republicans had a minority or close margin, TFA’s help and NRA’s help was desired by Republicans who routinely claimed that they were “100%”, “strong” or sometimes just “good” on the 2nd Amendment. For some it was an empty promise because they never understood what the 2nd Amendment really stood to protect. Nevertheless, in time firearms owners and grassroots organizations perhaps in blind hope helped to put Republicans into a majority. However, soon thereafter it was understood that there were serious problems.

For example, in December 2010, a sudden change of scheduling brought on a Republican House caucus vote that disappointingly put Beth Harwell by reportedly a 1 vote margin into the Speaker’s office. Many conservative Republicans knew better and specifically solicited TFA’s assistance to resist Harwell’s selection as Speaker. It is reported that Rep. Casada had the clear lead in votes for Speaker but that significant pressure from newly elected Bill Haslam changed enough minds to change the outcome. Thus, the House was led by a Speaker whose voting record on firearms was for all practical purposes worse that Speaker Naifeh’s “official” voting record (at least in the early years).

Then, 2011 saw the parking lot bill make it to the floor in a “permissive” context that was opposed by TFA and NRA. Firearms owners supported the “Bass” amendment which was offered on the floor and would have restored the bill to a mandate rather than merely a bill offering immunity from civil liability if an employer chose to allow employees to commute. When Bass offered his amendment, Rep. Evans (the sponsor) moved to kill it and got more than 30 House Republicans to go along. When that “tabling” motion failed, however, the bill was sent back to the committee to die for the year. Soon after that, TFA had meetings with House leaders (excluding Harwell). During one of those meetings, Rep. Debra Maggart, a member of House Republican leadership, told TFA that gun owners had no choice but to support the Republicans as the “best friends of gun owners”. When she said that she marginalized TFA’s work and its participation. She took TFA and its support for granted. She also assumed that supporting conservatives (which she apparently equated with incumbent Republicans) meant that TFA would support both leadership and incumbents. She was wrong. TFA will take an active role in purging incumbents in both parties who lack a clear history of consistently supporting 2nd Amendment legislative packages. TFA will do this in primaries and general elections. TFA is not partisan. TFA focuses first on constitutional rights and Republicans get no “presumption” that they are preferable in that regard. Every legislator will have to demonstrate through measurable acts and deeds that they are true conservatives and that they truly do put priority on the protection of constitutional rights or they deserve to be released from further service as soon as possible.

As for the bills at this time, TFA is pushing for votes. TFA is pushing for bringing the bills to the floor either through committee or by a procedural “recall” motion that lets all legislators vote to bring a bill directly to the floor even if it still stuck somewhere in the committee system. Right now, TFA and many of its members are working to document where legislators are on these issues. We are receiving lots of “canned” replies promising support but very little overt, public action from the rank and file members to demand that leadership bring these bills up so that they can be debated and considered on the respective floors.

TFA worked since 1996 to get restaurant carry passed. It did not happen for 14 years but it happened. Many legislators who were there in the beginning were not there in the end. TFA members can and will dedicate the time and money to get this current legislation passed even if it does not pass this year. It must pass because its a change that brings Tennessee closer to the standard that the constitution expects and protects.

At this point, it is clear that the bills have the support of enough individual members in the House and the Senate to become law this year. There is enough time. The bills are ready for floor votes. The only things standing in the way are apparently the promises made by leadership to Big Business or other interests such as have been revealed in the video taped and written statements made by Republican leaders such as Ron Ramsey, Beth Harwell and Gerald McCormick.

If the bills do not get floor votes, recorded votes, TFA has no choice but to place blame. Most of the blame will fall on Republican leadership based on their own statements. However, TFA will also work to educate the voters that the Republican leadership did not exist in a vacuum. Those leaders, just like other elected officials, are to some degree accountable to the rank and file members who select them. Consequently, if these bills do not come to a floor vote in both Houses this year, part of that blame must be considered to lie at the feet of the rank and file members of the Republican caucuses who could have demanded of their leadership that these bills be brought before them on the floor for debate and determination. Indeed, the evidence is that the Rules of procedure in both Houses allow the “recall” votes so that the members can in fact circumvent stalling antics by leadership in cases just such as this. The question is does the oath of office mean enough to a sufficient number of these caucus members to use their collective voices against their own leaders to demand that these issues be brought to the floor consideration. By next weekend, we should know the answer and by November, we should be prepared to reward or punish accordingly.


Press Releases

TFA Still Hunting Victory in Legislative Fight Over Gun Bills

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

HB3560 – On Calendar for Tuesday, April 10

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

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

Senate Bill – SB3002

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

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

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

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

From: “Ron Ramsey” <>

Sent: Tuesday, [omitted], 2010

To: [omitted]

Subject: Re: HB 3141 & SB 3009


Dear [omitted],

I support the bill requiring businesses to allow employees with

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

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

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

constitutional rights should not expire at the entrance to a parking

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

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

state recently saw the most brutal torture-slaying in Tennessee

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

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

in the workplace or anywhere else.

Thank you,

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey

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

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

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

Press Releases

TFA Director: Voting History Telling in Race for Speaker

An Emailed Statement to Subscribers of the Tennessee Firearms Association by TFA Executive Director John Harris; Nov. 10, 2010:

With the November 2 elections now part of history, decisions must be made on leadership in the General Assembly. While it is a pretty high probability that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will remain in that office in the Senate, there is uncertainty in the House. In 2008, the Republicans obtained what they thought was control but it was later determined that well planned manuevers by Democrat House leaders, probably under the leadership of Jimmy Naifeh, Gary Odom and Mike Turner, crafted a plan whereby all Democrats voted for Kent Williams, a Republican, who then voted for himself to be Speaker. There is no doubt that similar evaluations are being made at present as the decision on House leadership positions can be made as early as December.

At present, two of the most talked about candidates are Rep. Beth Harwell and Rep. Glen Casada both of whom are Republicans from Middle Tennessee. Each have long voting records. Each have NRA ratings – Casada has an A rating and Harwell has a B rating from the NRA. As for their voting records, neither have carried the controversial, core legislation that seeks to repeal the infringements and reclaim the full exercise of the rights protected under the 2nd Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution. But recent legislative votes are nonetheless telling.

Votes on legislation which require a clear understanding of the rights protected by the state and federal constitutions can be a useful “litmus test” on whether a candidate follows all of the provisions in these constitutions or just the convenient ones. Votes evidence the understanding of the phrase “shall not be infringed.” Votes evidence the conviction to put the protection and preservation of constitutionally protected rights and the principles of the Founding Fathers ahead of the panderings of the politically correct (misguided) such as often reflected in the opinion editorials of the few remaining newspapers in the state.

For 15 years, TFA has worked to provide relief for handgun permit holders who are dining at restaurants where alcohol or beer is served. After removing the control of Jimmy Naifeh from the Speaker’s office and the influence he had on sub-committee votes, we have passed this legislation in each of the last two years. In each year, it required a veto override. In 2010 when HB 3125 (by Curry Todd) was up on the floor, Rep. Casada voted for it and for the veto override. Rep. Beth Harwell, perhaps as the lone Republican doing so, voted against removing restrictions on your constitutional rights.

Another significant bill to examine is the parks legislation in 2009. HB 0716 (Nicely) addressed the ability of handgun permit holders to carry in public parks. It opened state and fedearl parks but unfortunately left an “opt out” for local parks – which is another topic and another bill. Again, the votes on whether to honor constitutional rights or whether to disregard rights in the name of perhaps “political correctness” surfaced. Rep. Casada voted for the Nicely legislation and Rep. Harwell voted against it.

This week, several grassroots activists have received calls predominately from supporters of one of these two candidates in which the message has essentially been that the activitists, that is to say – the citizens, need to shut up their commentary on which of the two candidates for House Speaker would be more desirable. The callers suggest that this is a matter to be solely determined by the “elected” representatives who presumably now “know what is best” for the state and the operation of government. What these calls may suggest is an arrogance that distances itself from the reality of a representative form of government.

It is important that we, including those who have been perhaps too long elected to office, value the principles of the 1st Amendment and the right of the citizen to petition elected officials as one of the most fundamental principles on which this State and this Country are based. On that right, citizens are encouraged to vote, to run for office and to support those seeking office each in accordance with their own perspectives and hopefully each with a view to maintaining and strengthening the current composition of government to reflect to the maximum extent possible the rights and freedoms reflected by our Founding Fathers at the state and union levels.

Given the role and power of the Speaker of the House as well as that of the Lt. Governor, interested citizens have a fundamental right to express their desires to no lesser extent that than they do in any other matter that might come before the representative body. For more than 15 years, we have seen as Speaker Naifeh used that office to control committees and procedures such that proposed legislation could be easily derailed by a few in subcommittees and committees even when it was well established that the legislation would pass if brought to the floor. The Speaker’s office and its disproportionate power in Tennessee governance greatly impacts the matters that are even brought for consideration before the full House. To suggest that the elected and re-elected representatives should be left to their own on the selection of a leader of this degree of power without the input from those whom they represent cannot be reconciled with the principles on which this State and union were founded. But, of these things you are already aware.

If the objection has been to the tone of the comments relative to one of these candidates, then in part that candidate must accept the consequences of the voting history on matters that are of concern to those who individually and collectively oppose that candidate’s desire to be Speaker. I have been involved in the legislature with 2nd Amendment issues since 1995. Voting histories reflect actions made in light of convictions held or not held on the core principles of the 2nd Amendment and/or the Tennessee Constitutional clause when those issues were hotly contested. A candidate may in good faith have represented what he/she perceived to be the preferences of that candidates constituents or simply his/her own prejudices but I submit that such preferences cannot take precedence over fundamental constitutional rights even if those rights appear to the candidate to be out of date or inconvenient (to borrow a phrase from Al Gore).

The opposition that many of those who have fought hard to protect, restore and reinforce the rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution have with respect to a candidate are generally founded on that candidates own voting record. Many see an elected official’s voting history on these Second Amendment issues as a litmus test of the depth of that individual’s core, constitutional foundations. This is not to say that the elected official may not be fundamentally more conservative than liberals in perhaps other fiscal or social issues. However, a demonstrated unwillingness to stand by core constitutional principles cannot be lightly ignored as a predictor of what might occur when other constitutional rights are in the balance.

It is important for all citizens to remain vigilant as the collective masters of government. Representatives have been elected but they have been elected as fiduciaries and stewards not as masters. Our plight in this country is that too frequently citizens have abdicated the duty of the citizens to be ever vigilant over those who have been elected as representative agents. Citizens have been too willing to place these elected officials on the pedestal of Mount Olympus when in reality the better analogy should be the heart of a servant that is demonstrated in the New Testament. Sadly, citizens have been trained to bow to elected representatives rather than to monitor and communicate with them.

The selection of a Speaker of the House for the 107th General Assembly is critical. The federal government has exceeded its constitutional boundaries and those limits must be reclaimed and re-established by the states. The district maps for the next decade are about to be redrawn. Social services may have to bow to budget limits as state government must be restrained. Illegal immigration must be reduced. Government efficiency must be increased to accomplish more with fewer tax dollars. Constitutional rights must be restored and excess legislation must be repealed. These are not tasks for lukewarm compromisers on bedrock constitutional principles.

TFA does not generally endorse candidates. TFA exists as a grassroots organization to motiviate and educate citizens. It is important that you, as a citizen, accept the responsibilities attendant to your freedoms and learn what you can of these candidates and anticipate the blocking moves of those who have been defeated. It is important for you to take a position on which of these candidates (or any others that you may prefer) is best suited in your opinion to set the tone of the Tennessee House of Representatives for the next 2 years. It is important that you call your elected representatives and discuss this with them to make your preferences known and understood. As always, act with the decorum of a master who has delegated authority and responsibility to a steward. Be knowledgeable, kind yet firm.