published Friday, March 1st, 2013

Haslam 'likely' to sign 'guns in parking lots' bill

Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga signals his colleagues on House floor session in Nashville about how to vote on a motion on a bill about a bill to allow the state's nearly 400,000 handgun carry permits to store firearms in the vehicles no matter where they are parked. The House later approved the bill, sending it to the governor's desk.
Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga signals his colleagues on House floor session in Nashville about how to vote on a motion on a bill about a bill to allow the state's nearly 400,000 handgun carry permits to store firearms in the vehicles no matter where they are parked. The House later approved the bill, sending it to the governor's desk.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam "will likely" sign legislation letting handgun-carry permit holders keep firearms in their cars on most parking lots, a spokesman said Thursday.

"The governor will review this bill, like he does all bills, when it comes to his desk, but he will likely sign it," Haslam spokesman David Smith said in an email.

The House passed the bill 72-22 on Thursday. The Senate passed it Feb. 12.

The bill affects the nearly 400,000 permit holders in Tennessee as well as permit holders who visit the state.

It protects businesses from liability in case of a workplace shooting, but it doesn't protect workers who bring guns if employers ban them, some lawmakers have said. But businesses, schools, universities, day care centers, churches and others would have no say about visitors or others lawfully on their lots.

The "guns in parking lots" caught the GOP-controlled General Assembly between Second Amendment advocates demanding "safe commute" legislation and businesses like Volkswagen that objected on grounds of private property rights and safety.

During the 80-minute debate, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, was in charge of tabling a barrage of amendments.

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, wanted to protect employees from firing if they violated employer policies by leaving guns locked in their cars. Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, calling for "commonsense exceptions," sought to exempt K-12 schools and college campuses, preschools and day care centers.

The Associated Press reported this week that more than 2,000 people have had their carry permits revoked or suspended in the last two years for charges ranging from drug dealing to murder.

But proponents say the overwhelming majority of permit holders are law-abiding citizens who have undergone criminal background checks, been fingerprinted and taken an eight-hour gun course to get a permit.

Before the vote, Republican Speaker Beth Harwell told GOP colleagues to disregard complaints from "fringe groups" that the bill doesn't do enough. She said the National Rifle Association has endorsed the final version of the measure.

That appears to have been a reference to the Tennessee Firearms Association, which has dubbed the legislation the "Lose Your Job If You Commute Bill."

Harwell said the business community is mostly "holding their nose and accepting the fact that we are where we are."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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