VOL. 130 | NO. 50 | Friday, March 13, 2015
Bid to End Tennessee Carry Permit Requirement Fails in House
ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A proposal to eliminate Tennessee's requirement to obtain a state-issued permit to openly carry handguns was defeated in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.
Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss Jonesborough said he introduced the measure because he believes that "current laws here in Tennessee infringe on the Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution."
The measure failed on a voice vote in the civil justice subcommittee. Chairman Jim Coley, R- Bartlett, said afterward that the vote was 4-2 against the bill.
The quick defeat of the open carry proposal stands in contrast to last year's version, which tied lawmakers in knots until it was finally killed in the final days of the legislative session.
Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said he was pleased that lawmakers quickly defeated this year's bill, saying the decision reflects overall satisfaction with Tennessee's permit program that requires background checks and firearms training.
"Almost a half-million Tennessean have permits under that system, so I think it's pretty clear that the citizens of our state support that system and are very pleased with it," Gibbons said. "And I think more and more legislators are beginning to realize that."
The committee action came after Republican Gov. Bill Haslam earlier in the day urged lawmakers not to let the upcoming convention of the National Rifle Association in Nashville influence their consideration of a slew of bills seeking to loosen state gun laws.
The governor opposed the open carry bill and has raised concerns about another proposal to prevent local governments from banning guns in parks, playgrounds and sports fields.
The NRA's annual meeting is scheduled for the weekend beginning April 10 at Nashville's new convention center. Organizers expect more than 75,000 people to attend.
The impending arrival of the powerful gun lobby in the state capital has spurred some of the urgency surrounding the gun legislation, Haslam said.
"It's definitely been mentioned by some folks as one of the reasons to speed that along," Haslam said.
"I don't think long-term policy should ever be driven by a short-term need," he said. "People should decide, is this good policy for the state or not?"
Haslam said doing away with permitting requirements would fly in the face of past arguments in support of new laws to allow handguns to be carried in bars and state parks, and to be stored in vehicles parked in employers' parking lots.
"We've passed a lot of laws in this state based on the fact that people with firearms with them had permits and had gone through the education process," Haslam said.
The governor said mayors are sharply divided over efforts to remove local control over guns in parks, but said he hopes he can find a way to craft a compromise. When Haslam was mayor of Knoxville before his election as governor, he supported a 2009 city council vote that kept in place a ban on handguns in some of the city's parks.
The NRA meeting is scheduled to kick off with an event featuring several potential Republican candidates for president, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
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