The wet dream of Tennessee’s Second Amendment absolutists, a change in gun laws to allow so-called constitutional carry, failed recently in the State Senate Judiciary Committee.
It would have scrapped the entire handgun carry permit system (ending safety training, fees and background checks for applicants), and made it legal for anyone to carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, in public in this state without the requirement of a government permit. After about 45 minutes debate, the vote was 4-4-1.
Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, argued his bill is necessary because basically the whole world should pack heat to defend against ISIS lone wolves who he imagines everywhere. One should probably mention that the senator’s paranoid fantasies do not constitute a basis for making law. To satisfy concerns about elimination of firearms training, he offered an amendment to keep it as a requirement. Of course, that offering would be worthless, since the Tennessee Firearms Association told its members it planned to strip the amendment if the bill advanced.
Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, said law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to fiddle around with any government rules to be capable of defending themselves. Roberts said: “It’s not a privilege. It’s a constitutional right. We’re putting ourselves in a position where we have to buy that right back from the government. Do you have to pay to vote? Why do I have to pay to have a gun? If I go buy a handgun, I already have to go through the background check. I can have it in my car. I can have it in my home. Why can’t I have it in my pocket? I trust the law-abiding citizens of Tennessee to carry a gun. There is nothing that we are doing today that’s going to change what a criminal does.”
It’s funny that Mr. Roberts put it that way… because reality seems to have a dispute with his assertions.The right to carry a weapon isn’t being infringed; the PRIVILEGE of carrying an easily-concealed deadly weapon is not a right.
“Do you have to pay to vote?”
Why, yes, in Tennessee, many times you do. The State Senator might do well to recall the voter-ID law that he and his GOP cronies pushed into law to combat the completely nonexistent voter fraud “problem” they dreamed up to disenfranchise large swaths of the populace. Indeed, removing the carry-permit system would cut out yet another “acceptable” identification from the already-short list of them.
“If I go buy a handgun, I already have to go through the background check.”
Ah, but that’s assuming that you didn’t go to the fairground or one of the other various gun shows and wink-wink your way past purchasing a weapon from a seller more interested in the sale than your possible criminal background. It’s been proven to be more common than the NRA wants you to believe, and a carry license would be one more way to separate the “good guys” from the “bad guys”.
“I trust the law-abiding citizens of Tennessee to carry a gun.”
Oh really, now? Is that why all guns, outside those carried by the guards, are banned from the Capitol in Nashville? The GOP has had control of the Tennessee state government for decades now; you and your “trusting” colleagues could have done away with that restriction ages ago… or maybe your trust doesn’t actually go very far. It’s all very well to say you trust “law-abiding citizens”, but they’re only law-abiding up until they pull out the gun in a fit of rage or madness and start shooting.
Naturally, the Tennessee Firearms Association went ballistic. In a message to its members, the TFA said it had expected six Republican votes for the bill (not four), and accused Republican Senators Todd Gardenhire and John Stevens of betrayal. Gardenhire “pulled a Barack Obama” and passed on the vote, and Stevens voted no. Those senators “are solely and exclusively at fault for holding this legislation hostage in the committee,” the TFA said. They also slapped Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott for testifying against the bill, calling that “an open act of official oppression designed specifically to infringe our civil rights.”
Translation: we paid for those politicians, and we expect to get our money’s worth! “Pulled a Barack Obama”? Obama would have voted it down like the state GOP votes down a raise for teachers. Whomever writes their releases needs to learn more about effective libel. It’s also laughable to complain about THIS legislation being held up in committee, when so many other, more vital and necessary bills languish and die in the state’s committees every year because they don’t meet the strict regressive standards of the state GOP’s reality-ignorant philospohy.
It’s also interesting that, when police are killing black teens, they’re heroes who shall never be questioned or held accountable, but if they get between a white conservative and his less-than-8-year-old “right” to do anything he wants with a gun, suddenly they’re stormtroopers out to crush freedom under a jackboot. Never mind that the Highway Patrol and the other law-enforcement entities of the state will be the ones most directly affected by any reduction in firearm controls; it’s obviously just their selfish desire to stay alive and unshot that drives their “unpatriotic” attitudes, how selfish!
It’s a positive sign that a bill like this can fail in the most conservative state in the nation, as rated by the American Conservative Union… and a negative one that, despite input from law enforcement officials, it will inevitably be brought back up for consideration.