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Tennessee Legislature Wraps Up the 2009 Session!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two More NRA-backed Bills head to the Governor!

The Tennessee General Assembly’s 2009 Session adjourned sine die, late in the evening on Thursday, June 18.  Prior to adjournment, the Assembly passed NRA-backed House Bill 898, sponsored by State Representative Eric Watson (R-22) and State Senator Dewayne Bunch (R-9), and House Bill 961, sponsored by State Representative Mike Bell (R-26) and State Senator Tim Burchett (R-7).

HB 898 would broaden the definition of “law enforcement officer” to include retired and off-duty law enforcement officials. It also expands the right to carry by active law enforcement officials to more geographical locations. Based upon Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper’s opinion dated June 12, (Opinion No. 09-118), HB 898 was also amended to specify that no entity of state or local government is authorized to discriminate based solely upon conduct or activity related to the lawful possession of firearms where alcoholic beverages are served.  After being referred to a conference committee, HB 898 passed the House on a 77 to 13 vote and the Senate on a 25 to 4 vote.

HB 961 would authorize a person with a handgun carry permit to possess a firearm in a refuge, public hunting area, wildlife management area, or on national forest land.  HB 961 passed the House on an 89 to 3 vote and passed the Senate unanimously on a 28 to 0 vote.

HB 898 and HB 961 now head to Governor Phil Bredesen’s (D) desk for consideration.  Please make your voices heard in support of these important bills.  The Governor can be reached by phone at (615)741-2001 or email at Phil.Bredesen@tn.gov.

In a strong affirmation of our Second Amendment Rights, the Tennessee Legislature worked diligently this session to successfully pass several pro-gun measures into law.  Included among these was an override of Governor Phil Bredesen’s (D) veto of House Bill 962, NRA-backed restaurant carry legislation.

  • House Bill 46, sponsored by State Representative Joshua Evans (R-66) and State Senator Jim Tracy (R-16), prohibits the Department of Safety, or any department-approved handgun safety employee, from requiring a carry permit applicant to furnish any identifying information concerning any handgun the applicant owns or possesses. HB 46 went into effect on April 27.

  • House Bill 70, sponsored by State Representative Henry Fincher (D-42) and State Senator Andy Berke (D-10) removed the prohibition against using deadly force in protection of personal property.  It expands the right to self-defense to include a place of business. HB 70 will take effect Wednesday, July 1.

  • House Bill 254, sponsored by State Representative Glen Casada (R-63) and State Senator Mark Norris (R-32), eliminate the requirement to provide a thumbprint as part of the background check process when purchasing a firearm. HB 254 will take effect Wednesday, July 1.

  • House Bill 390, sponsored by State Representative Henry Fincher (D-42) and State Senator Doug Jackson (D-25), allows handgun carry permit holders to possess or carry a rifle or shotgun with a loaded magazine -- provided the firearm does not have a round in the chamber -- while in a private motor vehicle.  HB 390 takes effect Wednesday, July 1.

  • House Bill 716, sponsored by State Representative Frank Niceley (R-17) and State Senator Mae Beavers (R-17), allows any resident who has a valid handgun carry permit to possess a handgun within the boundaries of any state park. It also allows for permit holders to carry into local parks as of September 1, as long as the locality does not opt-out of the law by resolution before that date. Tennessee now joins 31 other states that allow some form of state park carry.  Permit Holders can carry into Tennessee state parks as of June 12.

  • House Bill 962, sponsored by State Representative Curry Todd (R-95) and State Senator Doug Jackson (D-25), enables law-abiding Right-to-Carry permit holders to carry firearms for self-defense in restaurants that serve alcohol, provided the permit holder is not consuming alcohol.  HB 962 passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, but Governor Bredesen vetoed the bill on May 28, disappointing more than 200,000 Tennessee Right-to-Carry permit holders.  While an override of his veto needed only a simple majority vote to pass, it cleared both chambers with overwhelming, bi-partisan support.  The House voted to override Governor Bredesen by a margin of 69-27, and the Senate by a margin of 21-9.  HB 962 goes into effect July 14.    

  • Senate Bill 309, sponsored by State Senator Andy Berke (D-10) and State Representative Henry Fincher (D-42), grants a shooting range that had been in operation for at least 30 years prior to December 16, 2008, the right to continue operating at the same location.  This right may not be amended, restricted, or terminated due to zoning changes.  SB 309 went into effect May 19.

  • Senate Bill 2276, sponsored by State Senator Jim Kyle (D-28) and State Representative Eddie Bass (D-65), authorize the Department of Safety to present a law enforcement officer’s service weapon to the spouse or child of an officer who dies in the line of duty. SB 2276 went into effect on May 5.

Several pro-gun bills remain active in the Tennessee Legislature, but will not be heard again until the 106th General Assembly reconvenes Tuesday, January 12 for the 2010 session.  These bills include Permit Confidentiality, which was to be referred back to Calendars Committee because it lacked a majority vote; the disposition of confiscated firearms bill, which was on its final vote by the Senate; and the Right to Hunt and Fish Resolution, which was on its Second Reading in the House and was recommended for passage by the Finance Ways and Means Committee in the Senate.

House Bill 1395, sponsored by State Representative Joshua Evans (R-66) was referred to summer study and is expected to be discussed before next session.  HB 1395 would protect your right to lawfully transport and store firearms in your privately owned locked motor vehicle while parked in a publicly accessible parking lot controlled by your employer or a business you frequent. 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact their Tennessee legislators this session!

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.