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Firearms Group Excluded from Negotiations on Guns-in-Lots Bill

by Steven Hale on March 22, 2012

House Speaker Beth Harwell told reporters Thursday that Republican leadership was continuing to work with “all interested parties” on guns-in-lots legislation, a group she says does not include the consistently boisterous Tennessee Firearms Association.

Speaking at her weekly press conference, the Nashville Republican said her caucus is still searching for the fine line between two of the party’s primary concerns.

“This caucus is dedicated to gun rights, the Second Amendment,” she said. “We are also dedicated to property rights. And we’re going to merge those until we get to a point where we’re satisfied, or we will not. We’ll continue to work.”

Throughout the ongoing debate over the legislation, which would allow workers to store guns in their cars on company lots, the TFA has appeared to be a player, throwing grenades via press release and testifying before a House committee in support of the bill. But Harwell said they’re not in the loop on negotiations about the details of the bill.

“As far as I know, the association that reflects the Second Amendment rights in this state is the National Rifle Association, and we have had ongoing discussions with them,” she said.

The NRA’s chief lobbyist in Tennessee was not available for comment at press time.

The executive director of the TFA, John Harris, told TNReport his association is working with other organizations, including tea party groups in the state, whom he says have made the issue a top priority. He said the TFA has been in contact with the NRA and is working with their lobbyist on the issue. But when it comes to the ongoing negotiations with legislators, Harris confirms that TFA is on the outside.

“The legislature has decided they’re not going to talk to TFA, which is the only state organization to have a presence in this issue for 15 years,” he said. “There are a significant amount of legislators talking to us off the record, because they’ve been threatened by leadership not to talk to us.”

Harris balked at the suggestion that the association’s frequently aggressive rhetoric might be the reason for legislators giving them the cold shoulder. He said they’re just “playing games.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, said Wednesday he expected to file two amendments to the bill before calling for a vote in a House committee next week. One, he said, would narrow the bill’s scope so that it applied only to gun carry permit holders, a limitation that Harwell said would make party leadership “more comfortable.” The second would create an exemption for nuclear facilities.

On Wednesday, a release from the TFA called the amendments “nothing but appeasement by these Republican leaders to the ‘Golden Goose’ of corporate money.”

Harris said Thursday the TFA is open to looking at the amendments once they’re filed. But if the bill strays too close to similar legislation in Georgia, which includes a long list of exemptions, he said the association will work to kill the amendment and possibly the bill itself.

For the most part, Democrats have been on the sidelines for what has been an in-house debate amongst Republicans. But during a press availability Thursday, Democratic House Caucus Chairman Mike Turner gave reporters his take.

“I’m a member of the NRA, OK? I believe in the Second Amendment,” he said. “But it’s been broadly interpreted here, lately, what that means. I think next thing you know, we get guns in parking lots, we’ll be carrying guns in the factory cafeteria. They keep reaching, reaching, reaching on issues. I think we’ve got enough gun laws on the books now.”

  • mickeywhite

    Thank you Madam Speaker, for trying to protect private property rights. Let Business’s decide what they will allow on their property, if the TN legislature takes that away from them, will they come at our own personal property next?

    Remember, Communist Plank Number 1 – Destroy private property rights.

    • Robert Armentrout

      @mickeywhite

      Please point out to me where in either the Tennessee Constitution or the U.S. Constitution it even mentions “property rights”. Then, please explain to me just how an inanimate object…ANY inanimate object left in a locked, privately owned vehicle encumbers in any way, the “property rights” of a piece of property specifically given over to business use where the public is not only allowed to be but encouraged to be?

      The difference between true private property rights and the property rights of commercial/business property is stark to say the least. Moreover, our own Tennessee Attorney General has issued an opinion in which he declares that these bills do not conflict with the Tennessee Constitution. Further, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has discarded similar legislation as Constitutional and has rejected the “property rights” excuse.

      I suspect you praise of Speaker Harwell has more to do with your personal opinion about firearms than it has to do with property rights.

  • Robert Armentrout

    Speaker, Harwell; you are a coward. Perhaps worse, you are a fraud.

    You claim to be supportive of the second amendment while concurrently doing all you can to delay and ignore this legislation; not even having enough backbone to bring it to the floor for a vote.

    The single most knowledgeable group regarding this issue is the Tennessee Firearms Association. To leave them out of discussion simply confirms what many have thought of Speaker Harwell for a long time which is that she is far more concerned about staying in power than she is concerned with doing the right thing for the people of Tennessee.

    Moreover, she obviously dose not want to be confused by having to consider facts but would rather listen to her big business friends while they fill her coffers with their “donations”.

    Republicans are, finally, in charge of the governor’s office, the house and the senate….it’s time to see if, now that they are, if they are willing to use their power to actually do the right thing or if they only want to use their power to stay in power; based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m betting it’s the latter.

  • Robert Armentrout

    @mickeywhite

    Please point out to me where in either the Tennessee Constitution or the U.S. Constitution it even mentions “property rights”. Then, please explain to me just how an inanimate object…ANY inanimate object left in a locked, privately owned vehicle encumbers in any way, the “property rights” of a piece of property specifically given over to business use where the public is not only allowed to be but encouraged to be?

    The difference between true private property rights and the property rights of commercial/business property is stark to say the least. Moreover, our own Tennessee Attorney General has issued an opinion in which he declares that these bills do not conflict with the Tennessee Constitution. Further, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has discarded similar legislation as Constitutional and has rejected the “property rights” excuse.

    I suspect you praise of Speaker Harwell has more to do with your personal opinion about firearms than it has to do with property rights.

  • mickeywhite

    Actually I have my permit and I carry. Show me in the either constitution where it allows you to do anything on anyone’s property?

  • mickeywhite

    Oh, then why aren’t people carrying at work at their desk, in their office? Open carry is legal here in TN, no permit required.

  • http://www.tennesseefirearms.com John Harris

    Mickey, its called “the police power” and was discussed in this specific context by the 10th Circuit when Oklahoma passed its safe commute law. It is that power granted to government, to regulate to a varying degree, certain “rights”. It is, for example, the basis for zoning codes, use codes, the ADA, Title VII, and lots of other regulations regarding the use of real property and the restrictions on use. Then, consider the Fifth Amendment “takings” clause.

  • Pingback: Harwell Claims NRA Includes ‘All Interested Parties’ in Gun-rights Debate, TFA Disputes | Tennessee Report

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