Gun-rights backer lashes out at Tennessee House GOP Caucus chairperson

Gun-rights backer lashes out at Tennessee House GOP Caucus chairperson

April 24th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

The Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville.

The Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville.

Photo by The Tennessean /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The president of a Tennessee-based gun rights group suggested House Republican Caucus chairperson Debra Maggart should be politically crucified for her opposition to controversial guns-in-parking lots legislation.

In an email alert to members today, Tennessee Firearms Association President John Harris said Maggart's "political career needs to end much as the Romans crucified criminals.

"Not just to end her tenure but as a glaring example to other Republicans that you cannot take the grassroots groups or the rights of citizens for granted and then put your hand out to Big Business for their support all the while expecting to be re-elected," Harris continued.

Maggart and top Republican leaders in the House and Senate are opposing a bill that strips private and public employers' right to bar employees and visitors from storing guns in their locked vehicles parked on their property. The bill is expected to come up later today in the House Calendar and Rules Committee.

Noting that she and Harris attended the same Christian high school, Maggart told the Times Free Press that "our school taught us to be better than this. I also think that the people who built our school, created our Christian school, would be appalled that he used the word crucifixion in that manner."

The bill has prompted a major battle between gun-rights proponents, including the National Rifle Association, which say the bill protects workers driving to and from work, and major companies, which say it violates their private property rights.

Maggart said there are a "lot of good members" who belong to the Tennessee Firearms Association and National Rifle Association, which is also pushing for floor votes on the legislation.

"The lobbyists that been employed by the NRA and the TFA have tried to use fear and intimidation and bully tactics to get their way and that's unfortunate. I think it demeans the legislature."