Tuesday of Holy WeekThe New Tennessee House of Representatives: Half the Naifeh With No Trans Fat!
Tennessee House Bill 962, which would allow persons who have a valid handgun carry permit to carry their weapon even into an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, has passed the House 70-26. The yeas included the votes of 20 Democrats, including George Fraley and Gary Moore, who were co-sponsors of the legislation, along with Dennis Ferguson, Harry Tindell, and even House Democratic Leader Gary Odom.
Opponents of this bill argue that it is dangerous because there is really no way to prevent someone who is drinking from carrying their firearm, even though the law would forbid it. This objection is rooted in reality, of course, but bars are no less susceptable to crime as any other establishment, and criminals will go where people are unarmed. By leaving bars a gun-free zone, we invite the criminal element to do their dirty work there. In addition, if we are going to allow people in Tennessee to have handgun carry permits, placing too many arbitratry limits on where a person may carry defeats the purpose of that law. Why even allow concealed (or open) carry if there are so few places one can carry? Either we allow people to carry, or we do not. If we are going to say that people have the right to carry (and they do), then we need to allow the public to exercise that right as freely as possible or not allow it at all. Why not liberalize the carry laws even further?
Among the noes (all Democrats) were no surprises, Mike Turner voted no, along with the Memphis DeBerry-led cabal, Janis Sontany, Joe Armstrong, and Rude Johnny Shaw. Jimmy Naifeh also voted no, but the passage of this bill truly signals a new day in Tennessee politics, because similar legislation had been stopped from coming to the House floor in the past merely because Naifeh didn't want it there. Now we know why he used every parliamentary tactic that he could to keep gun legislation from the House floor while he was Speaker-because if he had allowed the whole House to vote on serious firearms freedom legislation, it would have passed.