House Panel Advances Gun Bill

LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to strip employers of the right to ban firearms on company property is advancing again in the House, even though Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t think it will pass.

The amended measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect passed out of the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee on a voice vote on Tuesday.

The original bill would have allowed people to store legally-owned firearms in vehicles parked at work — regardless of their employers’ wishes.

The new version would limit the bill to people who have a state-issued handgun carry permit. It is similar to the companion bill that was withdrawn from consideration in the Senate.

However, Bass said he’s talked to the Senate sponsor and he’s agreed to revive the legislation, which has a provision that would allow individuals with state hunting licenses to store their firearms on company property.

Acquiring a handgun carry permit involves a training course and background check, while any state resident can order a hunting license off the Internet for $27.

Bass said Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, has also agreed to remove the hunting license provision to comply with his House proposal.

Haslam and Republican speakers of the House and Senate have argued that the proposal is too broad.

House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville said she hasn’t had a chance to review the amended bill, but promised to give it a fair hearing, regardless.

“The bill is moving through the committee, which is what I promised would happen,” she said. “And I believe ... both sides are being able to voice their opinion.”

Haslam said he doesn’t believe the legislation will pass this year.

“I just don’t think it will make its way through the committees and get voted on and approved on the floor,” said the Republican governor.

Supporters of the legislation backed by the National Rifle Association say they consider vehicles an extension of workers’ private property, even if they are parked on company lots.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.