Gov. Bill Haslam equates the legislative push to override local government gun bans in parks as a property matter rather than a constitutional one.
“City councils and county commissions have said, ‘OK, our taxpayers have paid for that park,’ and their elected representatives, I think, should get to decide what happens in the parks,” he told reporters after making a jobs announcement in Dickson. "To me, it’s not a Second Amendment right. It’s the same right anybody should have with a property they control."
Haslam stopped short of saying he'd veto the bill. In noting that the measure is now on the move in the House, he said, “We’ll have to see once it winds its way to me.”
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee advanced the bill this week, despite the governor's “major concerns” expressed earlier this year. Those concerns also didn’t stop the Senatem, which voted last month 26-7 to allow handgun-carry permit holders to bring their gun with them into parks, regardless whether local municipalities have banned them.
While House Speaker Beth Harwell has said she sees a guns-in-parks bill passing this year, she has said she wants to make the bill more “palatable” to local governments. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has also weighed in by asking members of the legislature to leave local authority to ban guns in municipal parks alone.
Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, Moms Demand Action chapter leader, and Telisha Cobb wanted to change some state representatives’ minds about the bill. In the middle of a conversation with Womick, McFadyen-Ketchum said, he reached into a drawer, pulled out a gun and placed it on his desk.
Womick, a Rockvale Republican, denies that. It was a gun holster, he said this week, and he explained that he leaves the gun itself in his car, even though he is exempt from the Capitol’s no-carry law. That’s the point he was trying to make, he said.
McFadyen-Ketchum disputes that. version. “Why would anyone pull out a holster?” she said. “I don’t have a photographic memory, but it was a gun.”
From the inbox:
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper announced today that he is cosponsoring legislation that would address an alarming increase in military sexual assaults by moving the response to such crimes outside the chain of command.
A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Cooper is cosponsoring the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich. The bill is a response to higher rates of sexual assault in the armed services and is the House version of legislation championed by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Despite the military’s efforts to rectify the issue, high rates of sexual assault persist. According to The New York Times, four out of five military sexual assaults go unreported. And other reports say perpetrators often are in the victims’ immediate chain of command.
“Threats to our troops should only come from the enemy,” Cooper said. “Not our fellow soldiers.”
The Military Justice Improvement Act would change the law to transfer the prosecution of crimes such as rape and sexual assault from commanders to independent military prosecutors.
Gillibrand has said the military is the only workplace in America where a boss decides whether or not a sexual assault occurred. Cooper agrees and believes his role as a congressman includes keeping the military strong.
“We’ve waited too long for the U.S. military to solve its own sexual assault problems,” Cooper said. “It needs civilian help.”
Roll Call suggests the junior senator may be looking at the statehouse:
“Sen. Corker is sometimes very frustrated with the process in the Senate, he is someone whose mindset is executive oriented,” one Tennessee GOP operative said. “He’s got an impressive private sector background and he’s used to getting things done, and that is the antithesis of the Senate.”
With the AG saying the proposal would imperil collegiate athletic teams, a Senate panel rejected a constitutional amendment proposed by Jim Summerville that would end "preferential treatment" based on sex, color and so on.
Speaker Harwell said narrowing a school voucher program ultimately to the bottom 10 percent of schools was the only way it would get out of committee, and she's OK with that. Gov's office says Haslam will continue pushing to focus program on low-income students in their lowest-performing schools.