published Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

More bad gun laws proposed

Tennessee is not yet the worst state for lax gun laws, but it’s not for lack of trying. Like more than a dozen other states bunched at the bottom of the heap with laws that encourage easy access and use of guns, our state Legislature keeps pushing the envelope for new ways to loosen our already stretched gun laws.

Legislators are now sponsoring a collection of three bills that would allow people with permits to carry concealed guns to take their guns into bars and state and local parks and wildlife areas. A fourth proposes to end public access to the state’s list of citizens who have obtained permits to carry concealed weapons, known as CCW permits, and to make publication of such information illegal and subject to a $2,500 fine.

Why? As it turns out, just over 25 percent of our state legislators — a bipartisan group 34 of the Legislature’s 132 members — hold CCW permits. That’s a far higher concentration — about 5 times higher — of card-carrying CCW gun-toters in the Legislature than in the general public.

Among Tennessee’s 4,687,000 citizens ages 18 and older, for example, less than 5 percent, or 219,236, possess CCW permits, and that’s a huge number. (Permit holders are required to be at least 21 and to pass a general handgun safety course.)

The three lawmakers who proposed the four bills — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville; Sen. Tim Burchette, R-Knoxville; and Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson — all have state issued CCW permits, this paper’s Nashville correspondent Andy Sher reported last week. House versions of the bills recently were recommended by a House handgun study committee, led by Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, another CCW permit holder.

All four of the bills are dangerous — three to public safety, the fourth to the public’s right to know who has a state concealed-carrying of weapons permit. Each should be vigorously opposed.

The safety issues should be readily apparent. Carrying concealed weapons into bars that serve alcohol could not be more casually enticing to violence. Bars already are among the most frequent venues for volatile conflict.

Carrying concealed weapons into parks and wildlife refuges is inherently detrimental to public safety because of the remoteness of protected lands. All related studies compiled for the recent report on the Bush administration’s proposal to allow gun-carrying in national parks, demonstrated the superior safety of parks where guns are not allowed.

That report didn’t deter President Bush. He signed the NRA-backed proposal as an executive order before he left office. NRA executives, following the decade-long push in state legislatures to pass laws allowing more and easier access to guns, have continued to encourage similar laws among state officials.

Tennessee’s Legislature has been extremely compliant with the NRA agenda. Absent strong public opposition to the latest four bills, these are likely to pass as well.

Sen. Jackson fails to see the folly of the bills. The bill he is sponsoring to allow CCW permit holders to carry guns into bars would not allow them to do so if they were drinking, and they must be out by 11 p.m. So what? People who visit bars, whether or not they drink, may be no less subject to reckless behavior..

The bill to close public CCW permit records is misguided for several reasons. Thorough studies have shown that criminals and prior felons often are able to obtain CCW permits because of inadequate background checks and record-keeping. Revocation processes are similarly leaky, where they exist at all, for people convicted of crimes after they have obtained CCW permits.

The public should be able to check the state’s CCW permit records because public monitoring can help ensure that people who do not qualify for such permits are reported. In any event, public permits are state actions that should remain public record as a matter of principle, and as a matter of compliance with the state’s Public Meetings and Records Act. State government simply should not be allowed to issue state permits to a citizen or any group for any action without making these public actions and grants of authority a matter of public records.

Tennessee is already far out on the path of negligent access to use of guns. In 24 of the 25 key areas of public gun safety policy tracked by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Tennessee is on the wrong side of public safety. See None of these policies pertain to 2nd Amendment rights to gun ownership. They all pertain to public safety.

Our Legislature should be tightening gun access laws, not drilling holes in them. The four new proposed laws should be rejected.

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bob37421 said...

This editorial borders on journalistic irresponsibility. There is such a lack of facts it's hard to know where to begin. For example: "Thorough studies have shown that criminals and prior felons often are able to obtain CCW permits because of inadequate background checks and record-keeping." What studies? Where? When? If lies and half-truth scare tactics are repeated often enough, eventually people believe them. I guess that's why it's called "opinion". Facts aren't necessary. The Brady bunch isn't exactly an unbiased source.

March 3, 2009 at 6:58 a.m.
rolando said...

Who writes this tripe? [And I am speaking about the author of the article, NOT the previous poster.]

This unsigned and unattributed article smells worse than a pigpen.

The author should have his pen/computer removed and his mouth washed out with soap for writing this misleading, distortion-ridden, emotion-packed, and baggage-loaded garbage.

He wouldn't know a gun fact if it slapped him up 'longside the head, choosing instead to drink the Brady Bunch's undiluted, sour-grapes kool-aid.

He obviously doesn't know the difference between a restaurant and a bar -- for starters, restaurants [The Outback, TGIFriday's, Chili's, even IHOP or anything along the Interstate for travelers, for instance] allow any age in to eat; bars allow only 21 years and above. Another difference -- Alcohol by-the-drink is the intended primary source of income for bars; FOOD is the intended primary source of income for restaurants. BIG difference there, one the author fails to recognize evidently thinking all and sundry driving through our state are bent on staggering into a bar and shootin' the place up with their Colt .45.

[He must be really upset because he won't be able to post all that personal information about our medical records or Driver's License info.]

March 3, 2009 at 9:08 a.m.
Gingerkid said...

This is possibly the most poorly written article I have ever read. First of all, the writer demonstrates his (or her, since the article is unsigned) ignorance of our state’s firearm law by stating that Tennessee residents can obtain “carry concealed weapons” permits. Tennessee residents can obtain a handgun carry permit, after successfully completing a handgun course, demonstrating proficiency in using a handgun, passing a background check, and putting themselves through the ordeal of fingerprinting and applying, including paying $115. This handgun carry permit allows a permit holder to carry a loaded weapon openly or concealed any place that is allowed by state or federal law. Shouldn’t an author be acquainted with the basics of the topic about which he/she is writing? I guess not.

Now to the proposed bills before the General Assembly: Allowing permit holders to carry in establishments that serve alcohol by the drink has been a concern of mine for some time. When I go to Outback, for instance, am I to leave my weapon in my vehicle? Is it not more easily accessible by criminals when the weapon is not on my person? Furthermore, if we take the writer’s perspective, then it begs the following question: If restaurants that serve food and alcohol before 11pm are such bastions of violence, wouldn’t an unknown number of “CCW” holders who are carrying effectively reduce the instances of violence in a given establishment. Back to reality: We’re talking about Applebee’s here. When is the last time you saw a fight in an Applebee’s?

Firearms should be allowed in state parks and wilderness areas for the same reason the writer believes guns should not be allowed. It’s remote. If a predator is to pick a location for horrible, violent crimes, what better place than a state park? You know that the people there aren’t armed, and chances are that your crime won’t be witnessed or even noticed for quite some time. Secondly, aren’t there wild animals in state parks? There have often been times I have wanted my pistol close at hand, as I lie in my tent, with the coyotes howling at what seems like 10 feet away.

The database closure issue doesn’t bother me as much. Allowing the public to access permit holder’s names is no big deal. However, the Commercial Appeal’s database search revealed MY date of birth and address. Why not go ahead and give identity thieves my mother’s maiden name and my social security number? I don’t mind if people know I have a handgun carry permit. In fact, I would say that most people I know already know that I have a permit. However, giving that much personal information is downright irresponsible.

I must admit that there are coherent arguments for the restriction of loaded weapon carry in certain places. I don’t agree with most of them, but at least they make logical sense. However, this writer completely misses the boat. I’m pretty libertarian and “pro-gun,” and I could write a better gun control article than this.

March 3, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.
EaTn said...

This is the most responsible and refreshing article written on this subject I have read since this farce has surfaced. Gun packers keep talking about their constitutional right to bear arms, but I've hardly seen any about the right to free press. Everyone with a gun carry permit should be thanking the press for publishing the Tn permit list because without this press freedom, your right to carry guns or any other basic right would probably evaporate rather quickly. Both arms and press are the basis for what our forefathers down the years have fought for, and for us to blow it off is much more irresponsible than anything the press could print. Without free press we would either be totally socialist or fascist, neither which would allow you the privelage to own or carry arms.

March 3, 2009 at 6:01 p.m.

The biased agenda of this editorial is crystal clear. Stir the pot, and smile at the swirling madness. Deny it if you must. Whomever wrote this uneducated waste of my time, clearly has no rational grasp of reality. The constant referral to "Bars" is a joke. The law clearly states "Restaurants", but that is how these "Brady Campaign" indoctrinators think.

The privacy issue is of concern. When Commercial Appeal posted their permit holder database, it was as if those law abiding citizens were being put on display! I checked their data page, and there was no sex offender database, but they were so concerned for public welfare that they provided one for honest, felony free, law abiding permit holders. Give me a break...

What it boils down to is, I have the right to protect myself and my family. Call the police? Absolutely, but until they get there, its my duty to protect my loved ones. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. We have the right to defend ourselves from rape, robbery and murder. Armed Americans save lives everyday in this country but you will not hear about it. Its bigger news to say a life was taken with a gun than to say a life was spared with a gun. I am pro law enforcement, they do their best, but they cannot be our personal bodyguards escorting us 24/7. They have no legally bound duty to protect any individual citizen, reference: Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981).

Only lawful citizens are restricted by laws! Criminals are just that, Criminals! They break laws, they could care less. Create a gun free zone, and he/she will still have a gun! Ban guns altogether, and he/she will still have a gun! To the author of this editorial, turn off CNN and MSNBC, learn to think for yourself, and quit trying to save the cheerleader...

American Sheepdog>

rolando said...

Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to keep and bear arms and the rest of our freedoms all come with certain responsibilities. Among those are the necessity to become informed before printing an editorial in a newspaper, before the classic of shouting "fire" when there isn't one, senselessly ranting over who has what on the village green, and knowing when to draw -- and use -- your weapon in self-defense or in the defense of others.

Newsmedia reporters [whatever happened to that used to be honorable] and their editors/owners are a special class of people with special responsibilities since they have a very bully pulpit.

When they fail as a group in meeting those standards, newspapers is happening today and it is their own fault. Tripe like this article is a major cause of their demise. Accuracy DOES count.

Finally, the freedom of the press is NOT under constant attack...the right to keep and bear arms IS. The latter ensures and safeguards the first. We do not need any "camels' noses" in this tent.

March 3, 2009 at 6:38 p.m.
kevinp said...

Since the gun control movement has collapsed at the grassroots level, the press has emerged as the greatest supporter and advocate of gun control and gun bans. Strange that the institution protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights should emerge as the greatest enemy of the Second Amendment - the one that protects all the others!

A surprising fact is that citizens licensed to carry concealed weapons have a crime rate lower than police officers. They are no threat to anybody except criminals. You are safer with them in your vicinity than without. Gun-free zones are really criminal safety zones - they guarantee that the only persons armed within the zone will be criminals.

March 4, 2009 at 10:46 a.m.
tadams said...

"Our Legislature should be tightening gun access laws, not drilling holes in them. The four new proposed laws should be rejected." - That is the ONLY relevant statement from this entire article. It is nothing more than a biased opinion of an author, but it may be the only two sentences, amongst this potentially humorous attempt for misuse of a media outlet, that are actually usable.

Why does this author feel they have a right to abuse their editorial privilege by spouting off such opinionated propaganda? This isn't a display of using 1st amendment rights, it's a financial disaster waiting to happen for the Times Free Press. I suppose, next, we'll read that it's the gun lobbyist's fault for loss of print paper readers, too?

It's certainly a shame that there's not a hyperlink to "Suggest removal" of this article. It is also no wonder there's not a name attached to it, to allow the reader the ability to directly scorn the author. Who, in their right mind, would stake any claim to authoring such garbage?

March 5, 2009 at 2:48 p.m.
Highlander said...

All of which is interesting, except you forgot one thing: Statistical data are good for just one purpose, and one purpose only: Determination of trends.

Any thought to apply such data in whatever way such as to modify behavior is fraught with failure, inasmuch that humans do not behave logically nor are they able to be programmed as would a computational device.

Further, discussing statistical data relative to whatever activity is —at best— only peripherally relevant, inasmuch that in order to comprehend the datum, one must of necessity evaluate EACH AND EVERY data point INDIVIDUALLY, and NOT collectively as gun banners are wont to do.

EACH incident which produces a data point, is UNIQUE unto itself, having its own particular character, unlike any other.

Your discussion on statistics is therefore irrelevant for the stated reasons.

Additionally: Comparing one nation to another has ABSOLUTELY ZERO validity.

March 7, 2009 at 9:11 a.m.
FarWesterner said...

I will try not to add to the hyperbole, as there is plenty of that within these comments.

First, I oppose not allowing local governments the right to ban guns in places where there are predominantly children present -- like parks. I think that the local government has every public safety right to make that decision. One of the proposed bills removes that right.

Second, I think it patently unwise to allow guns in restaurants, especially restaurants where alcohol is served. I note that the state bill on this subject applies only to restaurants that don't restrict access by age -- again mixing guns with children and families. I will also note that while the owner of the restaurant can "ban" guns in their establishment by posting a sign, the entity responsible for public safety in parks, cities and counties, cannot do the same with respect to the property under their jurisdiction.

I have two more points. An earlier poster stated: "A surprising fact is that citizens licensed to carry concealed weapons have a crime rate lower than police officers. They are no threat to anybody except criminals. You are safer with them in your vicinity than without. Gun-free zones are really criminal safety zones - they guarantee that the only persons armed within the zone will be criminals." There have been two recent shooting deaths by licensed gun owners in Shelby County -- one over whether cars were parked too close together. The licensed gun owner went to his car, got his licensed gun, and killed the other man, a father (I am certain both are fathers and both families are devastated). But if this is the ONLY instance where this has happened (and I am certain it is not), it undermines the assertion that licensed gun owners are no threat to anybody except criminals. Unless of course, the poster believes that parking too close is criminal behavior.

My last point -- are we serious? These bills are not about the 2nd amendment. The restrictions they seek to reverse were enacted for public safety. Are we seriously arguing that we will be safer allowing more guns around children and more guns around families and more guns where those families have access to alcohol? I don't need statistics to know this defies common sense.

March 9, 2009 at 11:28 a.m.

This is a response to the post by FarWesterner and not a personal attack; after all, this is a place for comments and debates, right? These bills are in fact a concern of the 2A. “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense…” The Supreme Court of the United States - Heller v. D.C. 2008 FIRST: You too, speak of LEGALLY ARMED citizens as if they are irresponsible criminals from the start. These armed citizens are Dr.’s, lawyers, school teachers, bus drivers, parents and grandparents… the list could go on. We are not speaking of arrogant, back woods trouble seeking vigilantes that pretend to be cops. We are talking about first responders. In the absence of police officers, these citizens can be the difference between a shooting and a mass shooting. They can have a direct impact on the number of lives lost before law enforcement arrives. Our ability to use deadly force is the same as a police officer. We both have to show that our lives or the lives of others were in danger of grievous bodily harm. If you were being clubbed with a pipe, would you want me to stop the attack and then dial 911, or dial 911 first and watch to be a good witness? That was a situational question and not a threat by the way. Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Does that mean you have a morbid wish for a house fire? Do you wear a seatbelt in your car? Do you want to wreck? A concealed handgun is the same concept. It’s a tool to survive an act of violence, and it ensures that I will at least have a fighting chance of saving my life, and even yours. SECOND: “Are we seriously arguing that we will be safer allowing more guns around children and more guns around families and more guns where those families have access to alcohol? I don't need statistics to know this defies common sense.” That statement defies common sense. Here we go again… Legally armed citizens must be beer chugging brawlers that wave guns around and shoot each other at the Chuck E Cheese. “There have been two recent shooting deaths by licensed gun owners in Shelby County” Can you name more? Now can you tell me how many lives have been saved by legally armed citizens? I’ll clarify with a common phrase used here; how many families and children have been saved by an armed citizen with a gun? Shall we discuss the lives taken by criminals that illegally possess guns without a license? Look… legally armed citizens are normal everyday people. You have waited in line with us at the corner store. We have said hello and exchanged comments about the weather while pumping gas. You’ve shopped beside us at Wal-mart and smiled at our children. Stop the assumption that legally armed citizens are monsters & criminals. If a legally armed citizen commits cold blooded murder, he should pay to the full extent of the law and be treated as a criminal. I’ll support that 110%.

March 9, 2009 at 11:38 p.m.
FarWesterner said...

I should, I guess, thank AmericanSheepdog for clarifying his comment was not a personal attack. I guess I appreciate his restraint.

My first post was clear, I think. But let me emphasize that my position on these matters is not related to any specific individual who has a gun permit. I just don't think it remotely wise to open up parks and restaurants to guns -- legal or otherwise. (and I know we have exceptions for hunting equipment in some parks) And while I know permit holders in general are not reckless, I HAVE buried black cows that were shot by what I could only suppose were either drunk or reckless or virtually blind deer hunters.

I appreciate the concern for personal safety. At the same time, I have trouble with the notion that we need a significant number of citizens to be packing heat at all times so that they can be "first responders" in the event of a crime. Someone who has taken one or two gun safety courses is not a qualified safety officer.

I don't have problems with guns or permit holders. I am concerned that this legislation ignores our local governments' rights in terms of protecting their citizens in their parks. I am concerned that this legislation, let me be clear here, increases the chances of gun-related harm in restaurants where alcohol is served. It increases those chances without good reason.

March 10, 2009 at 12:36 a.m.

FarWesterner, many thanks for accepting my response as a debate & not an attack, my initial post was too large and had to be edited and chopped up to fit. I also appreciate your rebuttal. While I sincerely respect your view as your opinion, I must also disagree.

Let me say that as far as the burial of your cows, chances are, and let's be honest here, they were not shot by a law abiding member of society. The person responsible, is not a concealed carry permit holder, but a teenager or otherwise mis-guided adult with a rifle. These ignorant types are all to common in our society. I stand with you, that its a senseless act with a firearm, but it doesn't apply to those of us that live an honest life and have a handgun license for protection.

Let's also clarify that this restaurant bill states that the permit holder may be in there as long as THEY are not consuming alcohol. A permit already becomes void the second alcohol touches your lips, as it should, no matter where you are. I agree NOBODY should carry a gun under the influence. The current law also includes some prescription medications. This is not going to change, and I support that. If my wife and daughter want to eat at Outback, as a lawful citizen, I should be able to privately conceal a means to protect them. If Outback wants to make their establishment a posted gun free zone, I will respectfully take my business elsewhere. That may sound petty to you, but their lives mean more to me than a blooming onion.

Remember this, laws restrict the lawful, not the criminals. Why should I, as a law-abiding member of society, be left defenseless. I guess we could do this everyday, debate that is, but we should just simply agree to dis-agree. I look forward to your reply, and then we will let this fade into history.

By the way, I emphasize to the concealed carry community, the need to seek professional training, and to practice often! Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it. I could take a life in self-defense and be 100% cleared in criminal court, and then be sued for everything I own in civil court. Permit holders do not take this lightly, trust me, its on their mind!

March 10, 2009 at 6:48 p.m.

first off, who wrote this garbage and did not include a name? and furthermore, where did you get your facts? all the states around Tennessee that allow carry in alcohol serving establishments have never once had an issue with a permit holder stirring up trouble. what you forget about when you slam attempts at better gun laws for the legal citizen is your overlooking the criminals that carry where ever they want to. do you think a criminal gives a hoot about where it is legal to carry and where it is not legal?

and while we are at it, Tennessee does not issue CCWs as you keep referring to, they are Handgun Carry Permits. there is a far cry between a concealed weapons permit and a handgun carry permit. concealed means concealed. the Tennessee permit allows for either method of carry. the vast majority choose to keep the weapon concealed because of the lame liberal crybaby garbage we have to hear.

what you do need to stop and think about is I have a carry permit. I am standing behind you in line at the gas station, I am eating beside you in Ryans Steakhouse, I have probably held the door open for you while you entered the bank because your hands were full, I probably let you over on the freeway when no one else would, and I am sure that you have given no thought about something so small. so next time your in line at the bank, going through all these scenarios in your mind, stop and think how many criminals might be watching you as you go to the bank. while you are thinking about that, wonder how any legal permit holders are out there that might be put in a position to save your sorry rear end because your getting mugged.

most gun haters change that mind when they are force to deal with a life threatening situation. i hope you are not one of those people who may be put in a position like that, but if it does ever happen, what are the odds the police are going to be right there to witness the crime? i bet the chances of a legally armed citizen helping you will be a lot more likely.

remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. that is the reason i carry my gun. a cop is just too heavy.

i chose several years ago to not be a victim of some crackheads drug fit. i will go home after a night out. i do not have to walk in fear of being put in a situation where i might be fearing for my life. would i shoot someone if it came down to that choice? i can say that beyond a shadow of a doubt i will defend my life or anyone elses life that is in a life threatening situation. all you unarmed people can do is watch helplessly and give a halfway decent description.

criminals want unarmed victims. that is a really easy target.

March 14, 2009 at 6:41 p.m.
roger44 said...

The public does not need my information,parks would be safer,and Tn. is not a CCW state,it is open or concealed carry,whichever you want to do.I guess you don't know as much as you think you do !!!

March 16, 2009 at 11:38 p.m.
Gunsforhire said...

This is typical liberal drivel and the American people are sick of it. Guns are not the problem but that is a moot point because you can not change the mind of anyone who does not think or, in this case report, with logic.

Criminals are the issue end of story! WHY should the law abiding be responsible for the actions of criminals? This is a fact, IF it were not for the 2nd Amendment you would have NO 1st Amendment. It sickens me to have my home town paper be a part of this agenda of the liberal crap aimed at law abiding gun owners. America is taking notes on who those are traitors of the US Constitution and it looks like Timesfreepress is on the list of those who would put aside unbiased reporting for the utter crap they report. I will NEVER buy a paper from these liberals again until they become unbiased and remove their LIBERAL agenda. You shame yourselves...

March 30, 2009 at 1:34 a.m.
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