Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.
Legislative Action Committee
Apparently without notice ascertainable from the State's web site, the House Judiciary had a "Handgun Study Committee" meeting on Thursday February 19, 2009. Rep. McCord, during the meeting which was video taped, stated that this study committee had been in existence for approximately 11 years and that it has been studying these bill issues and generating reports. I have yet to see any of these reports.
One aspect of this that is troubling is the fact that there is no notice or agenda for the meeting. For example, if you pull up the legislative web page for HB0962 (restaurant carry) at http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/default.aspx?BillNumber=HB0962 there is no mention of the bill being assigned to a study committee, there is no evidence that the bill was considered in a study committee on February 19, there is no evidence of the printed "amendment" that they discussed, nor is there is evidence of a report or recommendation on the bill itself. In addition, it is clear from comparing the video to the version of the bill that is on the state's web site that they are not discussing the same language.
The committee video is obtained at this link: http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=88&clip_id=314
The committee was chaired by Rep. Joe McCord (R. Maryville) Other members included Rep. Curry Todd (R. Collierville), Rep. Mike Stewart (D. Nashville), Rep. Harry Tindell (D. Knoxville), and Rep. Ulysses Jones (D. Shelby).
The purpose of the committee was to generate a "committee report".
They focused on 4 bills. These were restaurant carry, confidentiality list, wildlife management carry and state parks carry.
Restaurant Carry. HB0962 Much discussion on this issue and the problem in the minds of some of these legislators is again "what is a bar?" The issue they want to focus on is either how to define a bar or how to impose limits that would preclude people from being in restaurants during times that they think are indicative of "bar" and "tavern" problems.
Rep. McCord proposed 2 routes to be used in combination to address the "bar" issue. TFA opposes both by the way.
First, Rep. McCord discusses an outright ban after a certain time in the evening (proposed from 9pm to 11pm). The second part of the bill would ban possession if the establishment is "age restricted" - that is whether the place requires proof of age to enter the establishment.
Rep. Todd stated that he wanted no frame but that an 11pm time frame would be better if there has to be a time frame. Rep. McCord added in to clarify that if the restaurant started carding prior to the time cutoff, then it would automatically become a restricted property which means people would have to get up and leave. Rep. Stewart said that he felt the 11pm deadline was too late and he recommended 9pm (that shows a lot of trust in gun owners now doesn't it?). Finally, Rep. Todd moved to make the cutoff 11pm which carried on a voice vote.
They also discussed what the law should be relative to a hotels (e.g., Opryland) that have restaurants. Rep. Todd expressed the belief that any such hotel is completely off limits, presumably even in the private rooms, but Rep. McCord suggested that this issue be deferred to the full committee.
Confidentiality of Records HB0959 The "Commercial Appeal" poster child. Recommended without debate.
Parks HB0960 Rep. McCord notes that the federal government change encourages this change in the law. Rep. Jones asked about city parks. Recommended without debate.
Wildlife Management Areas HB0961 Similar to the parks bill. Recommended without debate.
Although we have been unable to locate a calendar for the week of February 23, it was announced at the close of the committee meeting that all the "gun bills" would be in the House Judiciary Criminal Practices committee meeting on Wednesday, February 25.
NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL PARTICULARLY ON THE RESTAURANT ISSUE.
Call YOUR House Members. You can look them up at this link: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/
The principal issue of concern on this list is that this study committee is recommending restrictions on the restaurant bill which we have historically opposed. It is obvious that some House members are in favor of severe restrictions through time limits (e.g., 9pm to 5am) on the restaurants if they support the legislation. They also want to impose restrictions based on whether the restaurant is "age restricted".
TFA historically opposes any such restrictions because the permit holder remains subject to the no consumption rule. For example, what would be the consequence at a New Year's Eve party - are permit holders going to be required to leave by 9pm, 10pm etc.?
Also, what happens if its a busy night - say Valentines - and you get to the restaurant early but there is an hour wait, and then there are delays in the food delivery. Do you have to get up and leave to disarm yourself if the time runs out? Well, based on the comment by Rep. McCord that "carding" would trigger an immediate status change (even if you were unaware) then presumably Rep. McCord would also state that if your meal was delayed past the 9, 10 or 11pm cutoff that you would have to leave the premises or at least leave long enough to disarm and secure your weapon in your vehicle (if you drove).These types of restrictions are clear evidence that there are still many members of the Tennessee General Assembly who just simply do not want to trust handgun permit holders to behave. We don't need curfews and restrictions and we need to make sure they know that!
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