published Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Bill making handgun-carry permit information secret clears House

NASHVILLE — The House voted 83-12 with no debate Monday night to make secret the names of all 220,000 Tennesseans who have state issued handgun-carry permits.

“This would make information contained in your handgun carry permit private and not open to the public,” Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, told colleagues, who passed the bill seconds later.

Meanwhile, House negotiators earlier in the day backpedaled on another permit-related bill and voted 3-2 to adopt a Senate version allowing permit holders to bring loaded pistols into bars and nightclubs.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, the Senate sponsor of the measure shutting down public access to permit holders’ records, said he may bring the bill to the Senate floor next week.

Former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, who blocked the bill from coming out of a subcommittee as speaker last year, voted against it on the floor.

“We should know the reason why these different people’s permits have been revoked,” Rep. Naifeh said later.

Proponents argue current law violates gun permit holders’ privacy rights. The bill is opposed by a coalition of news organizations and open record advocacy groups.

Since 2005, The Associated Press has reported, nearly 1,200 people have had their licenses revoked for felony convictions or suspended for court orders of protection or pending criminal charges.

Safety Department officials at one point lost the ability to check criminal records for permit renewals. It was only when news accounts revealed a number of felons could still legally carry loaded guns that top officials knew they had a problem.

The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, which has started checking Shelby County residents charged in shooting against permit records, reported last weekend a fourth case involving an alleged murder by a permit holder. That brings the total number to four since Feb. 6.

Earlier in the day, House members quickly backed down in a House/Senate conference committee on their version of the bill allowing guns in restaurants selling alcohol. The House-passed bill provided for a continued ban on guns between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It also prohibited guns in establishments restricted to persons 21 and older.

Both were intended to keep guns out of bars, nightclubs and what one senator has referred to as “honky tonks.”

Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, who wound up voting against the conference committee report, suggested colleagues were being hypocritical.

They have “complained so many times about federal mandates imposed on us at the state level, and here we’ve got a bill that pre-empts local government from saying we don’t want it,” he said.

“Booze and guns” do not mix, he said.

Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, and Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, the Senate and House sponsors of the bill, said the bill still would not allow permit holders to drink while carrying a gun.

They also said establishments could post signs banning permit holders from carrying their guns into their venues.

Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris said doing away with curfew and age restrictions makes “it a cleaner, easier bill to implement in the long run. People aren’t going to have to worry about ... whether one, whether or not we have an 11 p.m. curfew.”

He said some 30 states have similar bills and haven’t experienced problems.

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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SCOTTYM said...

“We should know the reason why these different people’s permits have been revoked,” Rep. Naifeh said later.

That's a nice little strawman he built there. Perhaps if he spent some time studying the laws, he would see that HB 959, as written, specifically states that it shall have no effect on the statistical reporting as required by 39-17-1351(s).

May 5, 2009 at 5:34 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

A lawmaker actually studying the law? How absurd, next you will want them to use common sense. Don't ask for the impossible.

May 5, 2009 at 6:24 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

enuf, you're right, what was I thinking?

May 5, 2009 at 7:18 p.m.
EaTn said...

With everybody and their brother already having a copy of their locals with permits, seems like this law is like closing the barn door after the horse bolted.

May 5, 2009 at 7:21 p.m.
crtsports said...

Terrible idea.

May 5, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

EaTn, having laws which call for locking up criminals after the fact is sort of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted as well, is it not?

crtsports, I agree it was a terrible idea for a certain anti-gun publication in a certain liberal leaning city to have aggregated this information in an easily searchable format to begin with. They have subsequently limited the amount of information provided, but they carelessly endangered permit holders by publishing their home address and other information in an attempt to intimidate people into not exercising their rights. The short-sightedness of some people is breathtaking.

Criminal #1: We don't have the cash to buy the guns we need. Criminal #2: Hey look, here is a database with 200,000+ address's of people who own guns. Criminal #1: Excellent work my man, find us some close by.

May 5, 2009 at 9:30 p.m.
moonpie said...

L'acte est fait.

I agree with the privacy law.

I have concerns about the law which allows people to carry in some bars, but my concerns are theoretical. I'm willing to see how it works out.

May 5, 2009 at 10:24 p.m.
rolando said...

Over and over and over again; NOTHING in the law REQUIRES business owners to allow guns in their businesses if they do not want them there.

All they need to do is let the permit holders know. It is absolutely the same as a "No Turn On Red" traffic control sign. If the signs are there, turns/guns/whatever are prohibited; if they are NOT there, it is OK.

Geesh. How many more times do some people need this explained. Why do anti-gunners insist on half-truths to make their point?

How about posting the names of people who do NOT have permits? The criminals will REALLY love that. Maybe that is how to combat the anti-gunner's approach...publish THEIR names/addresses. A little of their own medicine.

May 5, 2009 at 10:48 p.m.
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