published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Chattanooga area lawmakers in D.C. don't like plan

by Chris Carroll
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga speaks at the Doubletree Hotel in Chattanooga.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga speaks at the Doubletree Hotel in Chattanooga.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

One Tennessee Republican lawmaker says he's ready to blitz the violent video game industry. Another wants the president to tackle mental health. Mention guns, though, and they bolt.

Poised to overhaul the nation's gun laws to prevent another Newtown, President Obama shouldn't expect much help from anybody representing the Tennessee Valley in Washington.

"I will not support any proposal that violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement typical of Republican lawmakers.

The senator sounded a lot like U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, an Ooltewah conservative who pledged to oppose "any measure that infringes on our Second Amendment rights."

While guns were a nonstarter for local Republican officials, some praised the president's emphasis on mental health, promising for the first time in months to collaborate with a president deeply unpopular in their districts.

Do you agree with the president's gun-control plan?

"I do believe the president is right to focus on addressing mental health issues," U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais said in a statement, "and I look forward to working with him to make our mental health care system more efficient and responsive."

But the Jasper Republican's goodwill didn't even extend through his paragraph-long statement. He accused the Obama administration of "using the Newtown tragedy as a way to limit law-abiding Americans."

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, a North Georgia Republican, said "it's been devastating to see the loss of life at the hands of armed madmen." But echoing his local colleagues, Graves said he would oppose anything "that seeks to infringe on or intimidate people" from using guns.

Alexander said he'll "examine the impact of violent video games that enable individuals, especially children, to practice killing." Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker questioned whether "the most effective measures for combating violence in our society will come from Washington."

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