Subject: TFA Calendar for week of May 1, 2017 -- Important Updates

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April 28, 2017

Bill Calendar Report

There are almost no bills on this list that are good for rank and file Tennessee gun owners.  One or two appear to be good but have potential serious problems.

SB445/HB508 (Sen. Stevens and Rep. Lamberth) is one of those good but really bad bills.  What made this bill really bad is the House amendment.   Under current and longstanding TN law (TCA 39-17-1306), handguns and weapons are prohibited by statute "while inside any room in which judicial proceedings are in progress" - two elements - the "room" and only while judicial proceedings are "in progress."   Thus, by statute the entire courthouse is not off limits - unless its properly posted. 

In some parts of Tennessee, courts conduct hearings in buildings that have numerous other government services.  One such structure houses the court (only a few days a year), but it also have the court clerk's offices, the county clerk's office, the election commission and other "public" offices.  

The problem with SB445/HB508 as amended is some "slippery" language in the amendment that does two things.  First, it changes the statutory word "room" to "building" - which means that no longer is only the courtroom off limits - its now the entire public, taxpayer funded building - and the building does not even have to be a courthouse.  It might be, for example, that its another public structure which only occasionally is used as a temporary courtroom such as a traffic court, a city court, an environmental court, a drug court or perhaps even a codes enforcement court.

The other serious problem with the amendment is it reverses the "in progress" element to a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week ban. 

So, while SB445/HB508 has some good points, the impact can be drastic and horrible for permit holders.   If the amendment impacting TCA 39-17-1306 stays as written, TFA will likely score a vote for this bill as bad on its next ratings because it increases by statute the scope of gun free zones - permanently and with no justifiable cause.

Our bet is also that most of the co-sponsors are completely unaware of this amendment's change and its impact.  These include:  

Rep. Butt, Sheila
Rep. Byrd, David
Rep. Casada, Glen
Rep. Coley, Jim
Rep. Crawford , John
Rep. Eldridge, Jimmy
Rep. Faison, Jeremy
Rep. Farmer, Andrew
Rep. Goins, Tilman
Rep. Gravitt, Marc
Rep. Halford, Curtis
Rep. Hawk, David
Rep. Hill, Matthew
Rep. Hill, Timothy
Rep. Holt, Andy
Rep. Kumar, Sabi
Rep. Littleton, Mary
Rep. Matheny, Judd
Rep. Pody, Mark
Rep. Powers, Dennis
Rep. Ragan, John
Rep. Reedy, Jay
Rep. Rogers, Courtney
Rep. Rudd, Tim
Rep. Sanderson, Bill
Rep. Sexton, Jerry
Rep. Terry, Bryan
Rep. VanHuss, James
Rep. Weaver, Terri
Rep. White, Dawn
Rep. Williams, Ryan

SB1077/HB995  (Sen. Lundberg Rep Dawn White)

This bill gives concern because its a "bait and switch" bill.  It was introduced with a caption and bill language which merely increased amount of time that a handgun carry permit holder must notify the department of safety of a change of address from 60 days to 75 days.  Relatively harmless.

However, the bill was amended by Senator Lundberg (who has a clear history of voting against issues like constitutional and permitless carry when he was in the House) to do something that has nothing - nothing at all - with respect to the bills initial purpose.   The amendment, Senate Amendment 1 (005079), at least at this point bans the use of a gun on school property during school use.  The amendment appears to be an effort to deal with poorly worded legislation in the past regarding what constitutes a "use" but TFA has serious hesitations about the the amendment and its motive - as well as whether this is actually intended as the final amendment or just another "head fake" for potentially a last minute "Amendment 2" on the floor!

SB1241/HB452  (Senator Norris, Rep. Eldridge)

This bill has a 20 million a year fiscal note.  What does it do?  Well, at present, it is a felony for a convicted felon in Tennessee to possess a firearm.  No effort is made to treat non-violent felons differently from violent felons.  No effort is made to allow a non-violent felon (perhaps someone who wrote a bad check) to get their rights fully restored.

The amendment appears to have one goal - increase the grade of the chargeable felony from one felony class to the next higher grade.  That's it.  The amendment rewrites the bill to enhance possession of a firearm by a person with a prior felony conviction involving the use or attempted use of force from a class C felony to a class B felony and to enhance possession of a firearm by a person with a prior felony drug conviction from a class D felony to a class C felony.   Really?  Does the legislature and the bills advocates (state law enforcement or district attorneys) need to have taxpayers fund perhaps $20 million more per year because the felons need to be threatened or punished with more time in prison?  Or, is the real issue something else?  Are they targeting a sentencing issue?  Are they targeting a probation issue?  Are they targeting an increased threat to allow more flexibility in plea bargaining?  


Please look over this list and contact your legislators and the committee members with comments on these bills.  Remember, when contacting legislators, face to face meetings are best.   Calls and letters (including faxes) are second best. Least effective is emails - but at least send emails.

You can get the contact information for all legislators (and look up your legislators) at these two links:

Find My Legislator Lookup tool

Senate Directory

House Directory

If you appreciate these reports, please join Tennessee Firearms Association at join.tennesseefirearms.com or, if you are a current member, consider a supplemental member contribution to help cover the costs of collecting and organizing this information.

Yours

John Harris
Executive Director
Tennessee Firearms Association



PS If you want to help us move to get rid of gun free zones, to enact constitutional carry, and to push back against an unwilling legislative leadership and an uncooperative administration, please consider this request to  join, renew and support the Tennessee Firearms Association.  Asking for your member support of TFA is a call to action both financially and, more importantly, a call to affirmative action of individual engagement in a real battle for the restoration of our rights.

Other important links

TFA Website: www.tennesseefirearms.com
TFA PAC: www.tfalac.org
Facebook TFA Page:  www.facebook.com/Tennfirearms/
Facebook TFA Group: www.facebook.com/groups/TennesseeFirearms/
Twitter: @Tennfirearms



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