Opinion » Letter From The Editor

NRA Foreplay in Tennessee

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The NRA convention is coming to Nashville this weekend, so the Tennessee Legislature is trying to pass as many gun-friendly laws as possible before their overlords get here. That's not hyperbole. Some members have actually said in public that this is a concern. The NRA must be appeased, and quickly, lest Wayne "Wackjob" LaPierre call them out from the podium as sissies. Was there ever a clearer demonstration of who these folks are actually working for?

One of this bunch's signature pieces of legislation is the "guns in parks" bill, which would override the rights of Tennessee's cities and counties to make the rules for allowing guns in their parks. The proposed bill essentially allows guns in all local parks, no matter what the local preference might be.

This is being done in response to overwhelming public demand, right?

Of course, it's not. There has been no outcry from the citizenry to allow guns in our parks. Quite the opposite. Local government and business leaders around the state have denounced the law. It's just another dog-whistle bill to appease the NRA and the state's gun fetishists, public opinion be damned.

But they have a problem: The Senate upped the crazy a notch by adding an amendment that would allow armed handgun-carry permit holders onto the capitol grounds and into the building itself. Using their own "logic," you could rightly ask, "What's wrong with that?" After all, half the bozos in the legislature proudly carry guns, so you'd have plenty of responsible "good guys with guns" to take care of any responsible handgun carrier on capitol grounds who might become, er, irresponsible. Plus, there are plenty of police and security guards around. But the House doesn't like this idea.

Let's review, shall we? A) Our noble representatives are in favor of allowing people carrying guns to walk around freely in our parks and on our playgrounds (and, for that matter, pretty much anywhere they want), despite what the local citizenry might prefer; and B) they are not in favor of allowing people carrying guns to walk around where they are — a heavily secured and protected government facility. Nope, no hypocrisy there.

The lone hope for sanity lies in the hands of Governor Bill Haslam, who has, thankfully, expressed some reservations about all of this. He expressed regret that the legislature had not bothered to take testimony from local government leaders. (Representative Chuck "Chuck" Burpuss [R-Muletug] responded, "Testimony? We don't need no steenkin' testimony.") Well, not exactly. But close.

Haslam, not surprisingly, was not invited to speak to the NRA gathering. Given his recent efforts to push through Insure Tennessee, there appears to be a spark of humanity and common sense in our governor. Here's hoping he summons the courage to take on the anti-business, pro-bullet idealogues of his own party and vetoes this bill. In so doing, he'd show the legislature who the real sissies are.

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