guns

Speakers OK guns at the legislature — after move to Cordell Hull quarters

Handgun permit holders were prohibited from bringing their weapons into the Legislative Plaza, but when the General Assembly relocates to the remodeled Cordell Hull building, permit holders will be able to keep their guns when visiting lawmakers or attending committee meetings.

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally announced the new policy in a joint statement to media:

“Carry permit holders will be allowed to carry their firearms into the Cordell Hull Building, the new home of the Tennessee General Assembly. Tennessee carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographics in our state. To receive a permit, a citizen must be fingerprinted, submit to a background check and receive firearm training. Permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security. A thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit. Once that validity is established, a permit holder will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment while visiting their state government.”

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Haslam: TN officials consider how to deal with mass shooting

Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee’s homeland security officials are already preparing to deal with a mass shooting such as occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday, reports the Jackson Sun. He has also ordered flags at state building flown at half-staff today in honor of the victims at a country music concert in Nevada.

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Legislator uses campaign money for machine gun ammo

State Rep. Judd Matheny, currently running for the Republican nomination to the 6th Congressional District seat, used $1,600 from his legislative campaign funds to pay for ammunition fired during target shooting for lawmakers with machine guns in April, reports The Tennessean.

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Repeal of TN ban on gun silencers confuses some would-be buyers

Since the Legislature repealed a state law banning firearm silencers earlier this year, some Tennesseans have been going into gun stores thinking they could now buy one, reports the Kingsport Times-News. But the state law change had no impact on federal law that requires approval from the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division and thus the “Tennessee Hearing Protection Act” had no real impact on the already-in-place procedure for getting a silencer, also known as a suppressor.

“The people in Nashville signed the paperwork, and people think you can now come in and buy your silencer by just doing a gun check,” (Sally) Simpson (owner of The Gun Rack in Kingsport) said. “But silencers are regulated by the federal government, so they overrule the state government.” (She said a dozen people per day either visit her store or call wanting to buy a silencer.)

…If you wish to purchase a silencer, you must go to a licensed firearm dealer, fill out an application and send $200 to the ATF, which then does a background check on the buyer, Simpson said, noting that some folks are waiting up to a year to hear back from the federal agency.

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Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

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Haslam on calls for veto of gun bill: ‘Probably wasting your breath’

Questioned about the most controversial gun bill approved by the legislature this year, Gov. Bill Haslam says there’s no point in vetoing a measure that passed by lopsided majorities.

The bill (HB508) makes it easier – perhaps even profitable – for gunowners and groups such as the National Rifle Association to sue cities and counties over any restrictions imposed on carrying firearms by persons with a concealed carry permit. A successful plaintiff, under the bill, could get triple the attorney fees paid in a legal challenge to a local ordinance.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and several groups have urged Haslam to veto the measure. Asked if he will, Haslam said he’s still officially reviewing the measure, then added (as quoted by WPLN):

“You can veto it, but if something passes two-to-one, you’re probably wasting your breath,” Haslam says. “So you’re better off to try to work on the front end to try to get the bill in as good a shape as it can be.”

In Tennessee, lawmakers can override a governor’s veto with a simple majority.

The bill passed the House 70-24. The Senate vote was 26-6. It also came back to the House for concurrence on a Senate amendment and that vote was 71-14. The bill reached his desk on May 18, according to the legislative website. Under the state constitution, he has 10 days from that date — excluding Sundays — to make a decision (which, it appears, would actually fall on Memorial Day).  Besides signing the bill or vetoing it, the governor can let it become law without his signature

A clash of press releases on 2017 TN legislature’s gunfights

In press releases, both the National Rifle Association, which advocates for less gun control, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which advocates for more, are pretty much proclaiming victory in the 2017 Tennessee legislative session.

That perhaps indicates the session was pretty much a mixed bag on the gun front. Here are the contrasting press releases:

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Legislature votes to ‘hammer’ local governments imposing gun bans

The House and Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that makes it easier – perhaps even profitable – for gun-rights groups and their lawyers to challenge in court firearm bans on locally owned government property including parks, public buses and auditoriums.

There was some fairly heated debate on both the House and Senate floors, but with strong National Rifle Association support HB508 passed by comfortable margins in both chambers: Initially 70-24 in the House, then 26-5 Tuesday in the Senate, which added an amendment changing some of the wording. The House quickly signed off on the Senate amendment later Tuesday, 71-14, sending it to Gov. Bill Haslam (who was rather non-committal when asked about it recently).

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House OKs mandate that cities pay triple lawyer fees if they lose gun rights lawsuits

The House approved 70-24 Wednesday a bill that, according to the Times-Free Press, would give Tennessee cities and counties an ultimatum: buy metal detectors, hire security guards and check bags at many public buildings, parks and buses; or let people with handgun permits bring in their guns.

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Legislature repeals state-level ban on gun silencers

The House gave final approval Monday to a bill, officially labeled “The Tennessee Hearing Protection Act,” that repeals a state law generally prohibiting firearm silencers.

The final House vote was 74-18. That came after House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the measure (SB921) to require background checks for persons buying a silence and to declare use a silencer-equipped weapon  in committing a crime a felony.

The Senate had approved the bill 28-1 on April 3. Sponsors are Sen. Steve Southerland Rep. Tilman Goins, both R-Morristown.

In the House debate, Goins noted that silencers must be registered with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after payment of a $200 fee. He said the bill just “gets Tennessee out of the way” for those who want to buy and use silencers in accord with federal regulations.

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