NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today criticized a gun-rights group's recent characterization of top House GOP leaders as an "axis of evil" due to the lawmakers' efforts to broke a compromise on the so-called guns-in-parking lots bill.
"First of all, I don't think that kind of language is helpful in any circumstance, or almost any circumstance," Haslam, a fellow Republican, said of the charges recently leveled by Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris.
Haslam too been trying to find middle ground between groups like the TFA and National Rifle and the business community, which says the bill's provisions are an infringement on their private property rights.
"I think you really do have people trying to get it right," the governor told reporters after a speech to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. "This is one where Republicans believe in property rights and they believe in Second Amendment rights. Again, we talk a lot about balancing the system ... getting the balance right is important."
The NRA-drafted bill would allow anyone with a gun to store it in their locked vehicle parking on lots maintained by private or public employers. This bill comes up in the Senate Commerce Committee today.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, has legislation that follows a Georgia law, which allows state handgun-carry permit holders to store their guns in locked vehicles parked on a company's property. It would apply solely to employees.
The bill, which excludes state government parking lots, on Monday drew condemnation from the NRA's Institute of Legislative Action. The NRA argues that anyone - employee or not - should be able to bring store their weapons in locked vehicles on public or private parking lots. They shouldn't have to be employees either, the NRA says, noting firearms owners should be able to protect themselves going to and from home.