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VOL. 124 | NO. 119 | Friday, June 19, 2009

Measure to Close Handgun Records Fails in Tenn. Senate

LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press Writer

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Opponents of a measure to close access to the names of people who hold state-issued permits to carry loaded handguns say its failure Wednesday night is a victory for those who support open government.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville was defeated 14-13 in the Senate when it failed to get a majority vote. Norris didn't say whether he would try to revive the proposal, which passed the House 83-12 last month.

"This is not a gun bill, it's an open records bill," said Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "This is about your open records and your open government. It has nothing to do with guns."

Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes of Goodlettsville said "it's unfair to the people in Tennessee to close these records. It's the wrong thing to do."

Sen. Roy Herron proposed a compromise amendment that seemed more palatable, but it failed on a vote of 11-20. His measure would have closed the database and stopped any postings on the Internet, but it still would have allowed some inspection of records.

"I want the media, or anyone who will, to check the records," said the Dresden Democrat. "That's just the way it should be."

Norris' proposal would have allowed some exceptions, such as opening records in the case of a criminal investigation or if an individual's permit has been revoked.

Frank Gibson, who runs the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the bill's defeat is a "victory for people who want open government."

"There were more reasons given on the Senate floor tonight for why the records should remain open than there were reasons for closing it," Gibson said.

State Safety Department records show nearly 1,200 people have lost their permits since 2005.

Revocations are issued for felony convictions, while permits can be suspended for pending criminal charges or for court orders of protection.

___

Read HB0959 at http://www.capitol.tn.gov

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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