NASHVILLE - A Rutherford County Republican lawmaker left in the middle of the final state House floor debate on a controversial guns-in-parking lots bill to promote his expected 4th Congressional District bid, a Nashville newspaper reported Friday.
Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, was one of two House members officially excused from the chamber's proceedings, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, announced during the Feb. 28 debate.
The Nashville City Paper reported on its website that Carr headed to a Franklin country club to attend a fundraiser for his congressional campaign.
The seat is held by Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, has announced he will run in the GOP primary for the 4th District seat in 2014.
The City Paper quoted Carr saying saying he went to a gathering of "close personal friends" supporting his candidacy. Earlier this year, Carr formed an official exploratory committee.
"I made a calculated decision based on the votes that were necessary for passage," Carr told the newspaper about his decision to leave in the midst of proceedings on a bill of key interest to Second Amendment advocates. "I don't think it was an unreasonable choice that I made. Not unreasonable at all."
Carr missed a series of votes on amendments to the bill, which allows handgun-carry permit holders legally to go armed on almost all parking lots in Tennessee. Businesses and Second Amendment advocates have battled over similar legislation for two years.