Tennessee’s legislature has been focused on guns-in-parks legislation this week, which strips local governments of the right to ban handguns in parks. Yesterday the Senate voted to allow handguns in the State Capitol and Legislative Plaza, which happens to be a state park. House Republicans think it’s a poison pill designed to spark Gov. Haslam’s veto. House Speaker Beth Harwell, who unfortunately is now my rep (I went to sleep one night in a Democratic district, woke up the next morning with Republican cooties. Thank you, Gerry Mander), is having big sads:
Speaker Harwell: It was poorly drafted and it jeopardizes the entire bill.
Reporter: How so?
Harwell: It will put a fiscal note on it. We’ll go back into Finance (Ways and Means Committee). I just feel it jeopardizes the entire bill.
Reporter: Do you think it makes it more likely the governor will veto it, the entire bill?
Harwell: I can’t speak for the governor, you’d have to ask him that. But I would suspect that it would.
Reporter: What do you personally think of the idea though, of being able to carry guns in the Legislative Plaza and the Capitol?
Harwell: I think that should be a separate issue that we address in another bill.
Reporter: Why would it have had a fiscal note?
Harwell: All of the security that we have everywhere, it’s not just the Capitol. If you read the bill, it’s all the surrounding, all the buildings surrounding the Capitol are included. Obviously, it was not offered in a constructive fashion.
Reporter: So, the Supreme Court? Library and Archives?
Harwell: If you read the amendment, all of that is included.
Reporter: So the buildings across the street?
Reporter: Doesn’t the security machines, wouldn’t they detect that anyway?
Harwell: We’d have to have extra people down there probably to check and see if someone has a card on them, we’d have to verify the card is on the person. There’s a lot of issues we would need to look at if we chose to go that route. Anything else?
Seems to me that those are the very same issues that the rest of us now have to deal with, thanks to the passage of guns-in-parking lots, etc. State park rangers will have to check everyone’s carry permit, for instance. Security guards at shopping malls and businesses, at banks, etc. will have to do that. There’s a lot of security at many businesses, and now those people will have to be checking for carry permits. Thanks for recognizing that there are costs and hassles associated with this. But why should we citizens have to shoulder these burdens and you don’t? What makes you so special?
Tennessee Democrats should be supporting this legislation, whether it was written to kill the bill or not. If the rest of us plebes have to be faced with armed citizens in all aspects of our daily lives, then so should our legislators. But House Democratic Caucus leader Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville had this to say:
“I’m opposed to having guns in the Legislature where tempers can get hot,” Stewart said. “I think it’s absolutely not an insignificant risk that in the heated exchanges that go on between people that come up to advocate for opposite sides of bills that … somebody could pull out a weapon.”
What? Like tempers don’t get hot everywhere, all the damn time? Have you been stuck in traffic on Hillsboro Road lately, buddy? There’s steam coming out of peoples’ ears. Tempers get hot at sporting events, Little League games, bars and restaurants, at the Kroger, you name it. Peoples’ tempers get hot because that’s what it means to be human, and it’s not like political discussions are limited to the state capitol. When you add a gun into that mix, you’ve got a deadly combination. As Rep. Stewart seems to understand. Give him a gold star.
I just don’t understand why our legislators feel like they deserve to be protected from hot-tempered, armed citizens but the rest of us do not. I just don’t understand why Beth Harwell thinks the state legislature should be immune from dealing with the costs associated with allowing concealed carry everywhere but our cities and municipalities and businesses do not.
Maybe we all need to bring sleeping bags to the state Capitol, since that’s the only place people will be safe from the gun loons.