Haslam Ready for Compromise on Guns in Parking Lots

Governor, Ramsey may agree on keeping college campuses out of 2013 measure.



Governor Bill Haslam
  • JB
  • Governor Bill Haslam
Press reports from Nashville and East Tennessee indicate that a guns-in-parking-lots bill which caused a major schism in Republican ranks in the 2012 legislative session and never got to the floor may be cocked and ready for passage in 2013.

According to Eric Schelzig of the Associated Press, Governor Bill Haslam said Tuesday that he expects to see a compromise measure passed in the forthcoming session of the General Assembly but one that precludes storing firearms in vehicles on college campuses.

A bill allowing guns to be kept in locked cars in parking lots was vigorously pushed by the National Rifle Association in the 2012 session but encountered stiff opposition from major business interests in the state, including FedEx in Memphis, and was never called up for a vote. State Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville), then the GOP caucus chair, was blamed by the bill’s supporters for blocking it in the House, and the NRA played a major financial and organizational role in getting Maggart defeated for reelection in this year’s Republican primary.

According to Schelzig, Haslam indicated his administration would not intervene in any renewed controversy unless college campuses were included in such a bill.

The governor’s remarks came a day after Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey had told educators at a luncheon meeting in Blountville that he expected a guns-in-parking-lots bill to pass in 2013.

Hank Hayes of the Kingsort Times-News quoted Ramsey as saying, "I've already got it drafted ...The (newspaper) headline will be 'Guns On Campus,' but that's not what we're talking about," Something is going to pass this year. I want to put this behind us and forget about it.”

Ramsey spoke to the terms of a likely compromise. “We may exempt out schools, that's fine, but even then we're talking about public parking lots. ...There's got to be a way to keep it in a car legally.”

There may still be serious opposition among lawmakers in the Republican majority to a guns-in-parking-lots measure, however. As state Senator-elect Frank Nicely (R-Knoxville), who was regarded as one of the more conservative members of the House during several terms there, said, ““If a property owner tells someone you can’t bring a yo-yo on his property, much less a gun, you can’t bring it on that property.”

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