Subject: Stop the unnecessary "concealed" only permit -- Legislative Report for 4-26-19 and Calendar for 4-29-19

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April 26, 2019

The Tennessee Legislature, which is totally controlled by a super-majority of Republicans from across the state, is starting to wind down for 2019. It is proving once again, without any question, that it is not a caucus that is strong on the 2nd Amendment, transparency or keeping promises. There is still a small amount of time to change that but not much for this year.

Over the last two weeks, the Legislature really has not done much if anything of significance on 2nd Amendment issues. What it has been doing in other areas should however concern constitutionally minded and conservative oriented citizens. What is has been doing should concern any citizen who believes that legislators should put significant issues on the floors of the respective houses for full consideration and debate – in transparent public hearings.

Tennesseans may and should hold concerns about whether they are being “disenfranchised” as voters because of patterns of conduct and transactions demonstrating an intentional disregard for the rules of procedure, holding open votes to pressure some legislators to flip, apparently using “carrots” or threats to change votes other than on the merits, and other shenanigans that sound more like Nancy Pelosi’s style of leadership rather than one of trustworthy, conservative leaders of the “other party”.

For example, Senator Mark Pody has a bill that deals with the abortion issue (the subject matter is irrelevant for this example). That bill had already passed the House by a good margin. In the Senate Judiciary Committee there are 9 members of which 7 identify as Republicans. That committee voted 5-3-1 to send the bill to “Summer Study” which effectively simply kills the bill. Who were the five that killed the bill? Republican Senators Mike Bell, Jon Lundberg, Todd Gardendhire, John Stevens who were joined by Democrat Sarah Kyle are the 5 who killed the bill. Who were the 3 who voted to send the bill to the floor for debate and consideration? Republicans Janice Bowling and Dan White as well a Democrat Katrina Robinson. Republican Senator Kerry Roberts was present but when give the chance to vote he did not bother to do so. But why summer study? This issue has been around the legislature for years. Why have they not already studied it and devised a plan. Why kick the issue down the road to be considered later?

Getting back to the shenanigans. In response, Senator Mark Pody (who also carries a number of 2nd Amendment bills that TFA supports) drew a line in the sand. He felt that this bill was important and it could save lives if by nothing else discouraging some abortions. Senator Pody thus announced that he would file a motion to withdraw the bill from committee. That motion is referred to as a “recall motion” in the Senate’s “temporary rules” and is normally seen as an affront to the leadership’s “management” of legislation in the committee system. When Senator Pody’s motion was offered on the Senate Floor, a motion was made by Republican Senator Jack Johnson to “table” Pody’s motion (that is to avoid voting on it) and Lt. Gov. McNally refused efforts to have a roll call vote on even the tabling motion. Eight senators – just 8 – asked to have their votes on the “tabling” motion recorded as “no” votes (which would have been the pro-heartbeat bill vote). Everyone else is therefore presumed to have voted on the floor to kill the heartbeat bill. But let’s back up for a minute to Jack Johnson who is a “seasoned” Republican leader. Under the Senate Rules, the real rules are identified as “Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure”. The motion to withdraw (Pody’s recall motion) is a motion under Section 491 of the Mason’s Rules. Under Mason’s Rules, the motion to withdraw is a “main motion” which takes precedence and is not subject to motions to postpone, refer to committee or table. Could it possibly be that an improper or illegal motion was used by Jack Johnson and Senate leadership to kill the heartbeat bill on the floor?

But what does this have to do with the 2nd Amendment? TFA’s leaders are well aware of the rules. TFA’s leaders are well aware of the dirty tricks and shenanigans of leadership (Democrats and Republicans play the same games at the leadership level). TFA’s leaders have actual held talks with senators and legislators, most recently Republicans, who acknowledged that the bills (one was constitutional carry) would not survive the committee process. Those bill sponsors promised TFA that when the bills failed, as they did, in committee that they would file the “recall motions”. Yet time after time they came back and reported their decisions not to do so with excuses such as they had been told by leadership that it was futile to do so, that the votes “were not there”, that the committee system could not be violated, and if they knew what was good for their careers, they would not even dare to file the notice of intent to bring the issue up.

Over the next week, there are several bills to be heard and they are listed on the calendar report. Not a single one of them is a strong 2nd Amendment issue. A few are “ok” such as the bill to eliminate gun safes from sales tax or the bill to eliminate the “special tax” on ammunition. Several of the other bills either take steps back on or don’t advance the 2nd Amendment at all.

The one bill which must be stopped – in its current form – is SB705 and HB1264. This is the bill to create a second category of handgun permits that is a “concealed only” permit. It was never a good idea and it has gotten worse. As amended, its a $65 fee for an 8 year permit (only slightly cheaper than the existing permit). It still has Department of Safety background checks, finger printing, applications, and TDOS supervised training courses although of a somewhat reduce number of hours. The question is WHY? Why this? Why create the confusion (the proposed concealed permit cannot be used in all areas where the standard permit is allowed)? Why risk loosing one or more reciprocity states? Why not just adopt Constitutional Carry as Kentucky and other states have done this year and as approximately 1/3 of all states have already done. What is the problem with the Republican caucus that after 9 years it cannot show that it truly supports the 2nd Amendment?

Please contact your legislators concerning these bills. It is important that we keep reminding them about the bills which remove infringements on our rights but it perhaps more important that we demand as voters that they put a stop to any proposed legislation the detracts to the smallest degree from our constitutionally protected rights.

Please contact your legislators concerning these bills. It is important that we keep reminding them about the bills which remove infringements on our rights but it perhaps more important that we demand as voters that they put a stop to any proposed legislation the detracts to the smallest degree from our constitutionally protected rights.

The bill status report and the bill calendar can be accessed through the TFA's website at this page

It is important that you review these reports and contact committee members and your individual legislators with your opinions, particularly your support or opposition.

Committee compositions, calendars and members are found on the State Website

You can look up your individual legislators on the State’s “Find my Legislator” page.

John Harris
Executive Director

Joining and supporting TFA is an investment in the fight to restore our constitutional rights and to fight against politicians who are willing to sell their votes and your rights to whichever business interest gives them the most money!

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