published Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Supreme Court’s gun ruling’s effects fuzzy for Tennessee

NASHVILLE — The ultimate impact in Tennessee of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which raised serious doubts about the constitutionality of a Chicago handgun ban, is “a little hard to predict,” said the head of a state gun-rights advocacy group who nonetheless expects it will trigger further litigation and could have a potentially “great” effect on the state’s handgun-carry laws.

Tennessee Firearms Association President John Harris said while justices in their 5-4 decision found the Second Amendment would apply to states “by virtue of the due process clause under the 14th Amendment, they haven’t really said as to any particular aspect of that what it means” and instead referred the Chicago handgun-ban case back to the trial court for adjudication.

Tennessee and its municipalities have no bans on handguns. The political battle in the Volunteer State has been over extension of where the state’s 270,000-plus handgun-carry permit holders to bring their weapons into public places.

“I see a great potential for it (ruling)” on the state’s handgun-carry laws, said Mr. Harris, an attorney, who noted that by ruling that the Second Amendment right to possess guns was a “fundamental right,” the Supreme Court raised the standard under which gun restrictions will be scrutinized.

“It becomes a question of what’s reasonable and that’s the question that the case doesn’t answer,” Mr. Harris said. If the ability to go armed is part of the right to self defense, Mr. Harris said, “it’s not an effective deterrent if you come home and your gun is limited to staying the confines of the building and the bad guy’s hiding in the bush’s outside.”

He said one area in Tennessee that could be challenged as a result of the ruling is a state law that last year allowed cities and counties to adopt ordinances banning permit holders from going owned in some or all local parks.

Guns are also banned at schools and on public college campuses as well as banned in most government buildings in Tennessee. Permit holders can go armed in state parks and most public places, including bars, provided owners do not post signs banning them.

In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted John Monroe, an attorney with the gun-rights group, predicting “there are going to be more Supreme Court cases. All they’ve done is establish what the Second Amendment means, generally. They haven’t begun to develop all of the contours of it. This Second Amendment litigation is in its infancy. … We don’t know what kinds of places that states and local governments can prevent carry.”

But Coalition to Stop Gun Violence communications director Ladd Everitt, took issue with predictions the Supreme Court ruling will greatly impact areas where permit holders can go armed.

“The answer is it has no effect on it whatsoever,” Mr. Everitt said. “One of the remarkable things about (Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s) decision was it was very restrained and conservative in approach. The only issue that Alito addresses in the McDonald decision is the right of an individual to own a handgun inside the home for self defense. And that’s it.”

In writing for the majority, Justice Alito said the right to keep and bear arms “is ‘not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.’”

He noted that in a previous case overturning a District of Columbia ban on handguns, “we made it clear” the ruling “did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures” as prohibiting possession of firearms by felons and carrying firearms in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

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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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rolando said...

Offhand, I would say the Fed/Tenn no-guns-in-parks laws, including those governing the Riverwalk, will go the way of the Tenn no-guns-where-alcohol-served law. Good riddance.

June 29, 2010 at 4:54 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


The Fed no-firearms-in-parks is actually, ever so slowly, evaporating.

The biggest problem with the current line of reasoning among the majority of the SC wrt the 2nd Amendment, is that they have tied the "right to firearms" to only a those persons within their own domicile. When you walk out on the street, all bets are off.

The right to free speech is not limited to the persons home. The right to peaceful assembly is not limited to large households. These rights belong to the individual at large. I am of the opinion that the right to keep and bear arms is likewise tied to the individual at large.


I read an earlier post of yours where you made some very pointed observations about HCPs. We all know what happened to the database in this state. This is a scary proposition in the face of ascendant tyranny.

I do get the idea on the training bit. I'm a bit of a nut so the training, even digging through the legal intricacies, is a a really enjoyable thing for me.(except for the cost) I do realize that most folks aren't really looking to put too much work into it.

I would rather see mandatory firearms training in public schools, than to have to carry my special little "State ID Card", and present it when challenged by government enforcers.

On a side note: I've been thoroughly tongue lashed by a uniformed officer for having a HCP and NOT having a firearm on my person.

I don't think the Chicago decision will make much of a change around this state. Our firearms laws are pretty liberal. They keep getting more so as time goes on. I'd like to see the State of TN reassert it's right to keep all the firearms laws consistent across the state. I shouldn't need to have a guide to every park in the state just know if I'm are breaking the law or not. It's absurd.

As a nation we are slowly rolling the log back up the hill on the 2nd Amendment issue. The statists have been rolling it down the hill since the first freed-slave took up arms against her oppressors. Rights, once bargained away, are very difficult to reassert without violence. It's slow going, and most of the "great thinkers" in this country, have their heads screwed on too tight to realize that those rights enumerated in the BOR predate the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Those rights predate the US SC, the US Congress, and the US Executive. Those rights are not awarded to individuals simply because the government is feeling generous. Our rights can not be revoked by an entity with no authority to do so. The Founders specifically tied Congress, the Executive, and the Courts, down with the BOR having the contemporary understanding that these rights are expansive for the individual, and restrictive to the governing entity.

We've come a long way baby!

June 29, 2010 at 6:42 p.m.
rolando said...

Problem is, indian, private property owners also have a right to control what happens on their property...ergo, the "No Guns Allowed" signs; his rights to NOT have guns takes precedence over MY right to carry one...WHILE I AM ON HIS PROPERTY. Which, IMO, is generally a good thing. Problem is, that also includes employer-owned parking lots.

June 29, 2010 at 7:28 p.m.
rolando said...

I have 3 guns in databases, SCOTTYM, one of those being an import request to the 1970s ATF; they would be lucky indeed to pull anything out of that mess.

'Course all they need is ONE record to justify a search/seizure, if it comes to that.

I burn a lot of ammo; always have, probably always will. The break-in for one specifies 400-500 FACTORY .45 loads to maintain the warranty. Still haven't gotten there. That makes for a sore hand [and big bucks]. My practice rounds are usually loaded lighter. I have GOT to find a way to capture the shells as they are fired...they are way too expensive to loose.

I maintain my draw/fire center-of-mass proficiency to fed standards and beyond. Yeah, it's fun. One MUST maintain proficiency to be of any use when the chips are down.

Last time I was on the range some guy beside me had a semi-auto "handgun" that fired .223 ammo. Ten inch barrel. Ugly thing...had a forearm grip. Reminiscent of a TEK10 type. The muzzle blast was literally heart-pounding. I moved.

I actually had an optional firearms training course in high school -- in Calif, no less. Fat chance of that today. I hadn't thought about the carry-continuously aspect. Problem is, I ride a MC most times; even though it has saddlebags, they are not secure...and I sometimes go into places guns are prohibited/restricted so secure storage becomes an issue. I DO have a rack so maybe a steel box bolted

June 29, 2010 at 7:52 p.m.
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