A bill that would allow handgun permit holders to store firearms just about anywhere they park is poised to become law. The so-called guns-in-trunks legislation now goes to the governor after being passed by the state House.
There would have been very little debate but for 13 amendments proposed mostly by Democrats at the last minute. Most would have exempted certain property owners.
Sponsor Jeremy Faison of East Tennessee says he had no intention of allowing any amendments.
“Absolutely there are some good ideas, but at the end of the day, I gave my word to business people and to common sense gun owners that we were going to pass this bill just like this, and it has something for everybody,” said Faison.
The state Senator shepherding Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s school voucher bill through the legislature says it doesn’t go nearly far enough. He says he will offer an amendment making many more students eligible to have their private school tuition paid with public money.
With proposed restrictions limiting vouchers to poor students attending struggling schools, Senator Brian Kelsey says just 3.5 percent of Tennessee students would qualify. And only a fraction of those would take the offer.
“After we do all this heavy lifting to work on this bill this year, if we end up with only two-thousandths of one percent of students being helped by it, I will be sorely disappointed,” said Sen. Kelsey.
Kelsey has yet to outline his amendment and says he will discuss it with the governor, who earlier this week said he likes his voucher bill the way it is.
A proposal allowing Tennessee handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their cars nearly anywhere they are parked is headed for a final vote Thursday morning.
Democrats want to make schools, long-term parking lots and unemployment offices off limits.
The bill’s sponsor has said he is not interested in exemptions. But Nashville Democrat Mike Turner says they should at least be considered, like one allowing any employer to opt out.
“If I’m a business owner, I probably don’t want you carrying on my property and I at least want to have the choice to deny you that right if I want to," said Turner.
Tennessee's largest employers have been less vocal about their opposition to the guns-in-trunks legislation this year. The bill gives the property owner immunity if anyone is hurt with a gun stored on site. It also is restricted to Tennesseans with handgun permits.
Bills in the Tennessee legislature that attempt to block the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state are unconstitutional, according to a just-released opinion from the state’s top lawyer.
The Tennessee Attorney General memo says the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause trumps state statutes, making it unlawful to nullify firearms laws made on the national level. He goes on to say the state legislature also can’t take a backdoor route and criminalize the enforcement of gun laws in Tennessee, which is exactly what a bill from Senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet does.
“I think he has an opinion just like the rest of us have an opinion,” says Beavers.
She says she will continue to push her legislation anyway, arguing that the Tenth Amendment gives states the right to govern themselves.