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Legislative Update for the Volunteer State!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Several important NRA-backed bills are on the move in the Tennessee State Legislature.

Right-To-Carry Reform 

Senate Bill 23, sponsored by State Senator Doug Jackson (D-25), allows a person who has a valid Right-to-Carry permit to carry a firearm into restaurants where alcohol may be served, as long as the permit holder is not consuming alcohol or is not otherwise prohibited by posting provisions.  This important Right-to-Carry reform measure passed the Senate by a 24 to 6 margin in January.  The companion bill, House Bill 702, authored by State Representative Joe McCord (R-08), is currently in the Judiciary sub-committee Criminal Practice and Procedure.

Senate Bill 2928, introduced by State Senator Paul Stanley (R-31) and companion bill House Bill 3063, sponsored by State Representative Phillip Johnson (R-78), would ensure that employees are able to protect themselves as they travel to and from work by allowing them to store their firearms in their vehicles while at work.  SB2928 prohibits any operator or owner of any parking lot from barring firearms in private vehicles.  Both bills are currently in the respective Judiciary committees.

Senate Bill 3299, sponsored by State Senator Paul Stanley (R-31) and House Bill 3153, sponsored by State Representative Jim Cobb (R-31), would establish by rule how the state will implement the federal “Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004,” relative to the carrying of firearms by qualified and retired law enforcement officers.  Both bills are in the respective Judiciary Committees.

Senate Bill 3730, sponsored by State Senator Dewayne Bunch (R-09) and companion House Bill 3014, sponsored by State Representative Stacey Campfield (R-18), would authorize full-time faculty and staff with valid handgun carry permits to carry handguns at public schools, colleges, and universities in Tennessee upon completion of an annual firearms training course.  Both bills are in their respective Judiciary Committees.

Two more Right-to-Carry reform bills from the 2007 session, House Bill 132 and House Bill 2184 are still in committee.  Sponsored by State Representative Mike Bell (R-23), HB132 would permit a person with a Right-to-Carry permit to possess a firearm in all public hunting areas, refuges, wildlife management areas, and national forests managed by the state.  HB132 was placed on the calendar in House Finance, Ways & Means Budget sub-committee for Wednesday, February 20 but was deferred until Wednesday, March 5.  The companion bill, Senate Bill 53, sponsored by State Senator Raymond Finney (R-08), passed the Senate unanimously (30-0) last session.   

Also, in the House Finance, Ways & Means Budget sub-committee is HB2184.  Sponsored by State Representative Frank Niceley (R-17), HB2184 would allow any resident who has a Right-to-Carry permit to possess his or her handgun while within the boundaries of any state park and all areas for recreational purposes.  Its Senate companion, SB 2143, sponsored by State Senator Tim Burchett (R-07), passed the State Senate last session without amendments, and would allow any resident who has a valid handgun carry permit to possess his or her handgun while within the boundaries of any state park. 

Handgun Permit Applications

Senate Bill 3368, authored by State Senator Mae Beavers (R-17) and its companion bill, House Bill 3293, introduced by State Representative Nathan Vaughn (D-02), would eliminate the statutory provision that prohibits a citizen who has voluntarily sought mental health treatment from obtaining a handgun carry permit.  The legislation would instead create a seven-year limitation.  Both bills are in the respective Judiciary Committees.

Senate Bill 3755, sponsored by State Senator Mark Norris (R-32) and companion House Bill 3137, authored by State Representative Eddie Bass (D-65) and State Representative Mike Bell (R-23), would restrict public access to the records of concealed handgun permit holders and prohibit their publication.  Both bills are in the respective Judiciary Committees.

Senate Bill 3883, sponsored by State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-03) and its companion House Bill 3683, sponsored by State Representative Matthew Hill (R-07) would reduce the handgun permit application fee from $115 to $100.  Both bills are in the respective Judiciary Committees.

Hunters and Sportsmen 

Senate Bill 2934, sponsored by State Senator Paul Stanley (R-31) and companion bill House Bill 2453, sponsored by State Representative Eric Swafford (R-25), would create a National Rifle Association license plate allocating 50% of the funds toward hunter education.  SB2934 passed the Senate unanimously (29-0) on Monday, February 11.  HB2453 is currently in the House Transportation Committee. 

On Tuesday, February 5, Tennessee’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 108 with NRA-backed amendments.  Sponsored by State Senator Doug Jackson (D-25) and State Representative Joe McCord (R-08), this critical legislation will amend the Tennessee Constitution by protecting the right to hunt and fish.  Passage of this meaningful legislation will preserve hunting and fishing in Tennessee for generations to come.  HJR108 had its first of six readings on the Senate floor, Wednesday February 13.  HJR108's NRA-backed amendment was voted on unanimously (30-0) by the Senate Thursday, February 21.  It is the first of three readings with Senator Beavers’ NRA-backed amendment.

All firearm-related bills in the House Judiciary Committee and its sub-committee: Criminal Practice and Procedure will be heard on Wednesday, March 19.  Please contact your legislature in support of all of the above listed important NRA-backed legislation.

When calling from within Tennessee, all legislators can be reached at 800-449-8366.  When calling from outside of Tennessee, all legislators can be reached at 615-741-1100.  After listening to the prompt, you must enter the last 5 digits of the legislator’s office phone number or dial by using their first or last name. 

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