Despite the fact that a record number of Tennesseans are now licensed to carry firearms, not all of the politicians in the Volunteer State are enthusiastic about expanding the legal protections for the civil right to keep and bear arms. Just this week, reports Dave Boucher in The Tennessean, the Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee . . .
* killed a bill that would have eliminated the licensing requirement for open carry of a handgun (concealed carry would have still required a license);
* declined to discuss a bill that would have permitted gun dealers to sell gun to handgun license holders without a background check; and
* declined to discuss a bill that would have allowed licensed firearms owners to carry a handgun on property used, but not owned, by a school.
Subcommittee Chairman Jim Coley, a Republican, was one of the four votes against the constitutional open carry bill. He defended his vote, saying he was worried about the idea of his fellow citizens carrying a firearm in the absence of a legally-mandated training requirement.
“I think one of the problems with the bill is that you don’t have to have a permit, so there’s no training involved. Which is troubling to me…that’s the biggest part: no permit, and therefore no training,” Coley said.
Chairman Jim failed to enlighten us as to why he apparently didn’t bother examining the historical experiences of states that have no training requirements for carrying a concealed handgun – a diverse group that includes Western locales like Arizona and Alaska, New England Yankee strongholds like Vermont, and even states with a lot of urbanization such as Pennsylvania.
Representative Sherry Jones, a Democrat, also spoke out against the bill.
“It just makes me want to stay in the house all the time because I don’t want to go somewhere where somebody takes their gun and decides they’re gonna rob somebody, and then 57 people stand up to shoot the guy who’s come in to rob, and a lot of people get dead,” Jones said.
I don’t now any good psychiatrists specializing in phobias to recommend for Rep. Jones in Nashville, so let’s just move on.
Demonstrating his ability to make comments almost as ignorant as Representative Jones, Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, expressed concern about people carrying a firearm without a background check — although he did not clarify why he believed that a background check was necessary for someone who wasn’t actually suspected of breaking any laws, especially when Tennessee’s own system has been criticized in the past for being “inconsistent” and containing “out of date records.”
There was one light moment in the whole story, though. When Representative Jones rhetorically asked why “everyone would want to carry a gun,” Representative Micah Van Huss — a Republican, and one of the bill’s 24 sponsors in the house — had a reply for her.
“Because they’re American.”