NASHVILLE — A bill seeking to guarantee people the right to store firearms in vehicles parked at work — regardless of their employers’ wishes — has likely died for the year, House Speaker Beth Harwell said Thursday.
“My understanding is the bill is dead in the Senate,” the Nashville Republican told reporters after a House floor session. “The lieutenant governor has told me that it is.”
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who also is lieutenant governor, has expressed concern that the guns in parking lots proposal was too broad.
“I can't imagine with the time constraints that we have that anything like that is going to come to the floor,” he told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “We're still trying to define what is a true public parking lot and what is not.”
On Wednesday, the Blountville Republican chided the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce for making its opposition to the bill their major lobbying priority this year.
“I realize you put G-U-N in a sentence and the subject becomes emotional,” he told the group during a speech. “But let me assure you there are issues that affect us more every day than this that we could use your help on.”
The original version of the bill backed by the National Rifle Association would have allowed workers to store any legally owned firearms in vehicles parked on company lots.
The measure sponsored by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, and Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, was later amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee to apply only to people with handgun carry permits or hunting licenses.
But the proposal was still considered too broad by business, higher education and law enforcement groups. Ramsey, Harwell and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam had also raised concerns about the refusal to include exceptions for large employers and state colleges.
Harwell said she expects the House version to advance out of a subcommittee regardless of the Senate action, but said the bill will become far more limited.
“I think that if that bill were on the floor, most members would have grave concerns that it (goes) simply too far and violates a basic constitutional right to private property,” she said. “And so should we pass anything, I think it will be in a different form.”
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