NASHVILLE - A Rutherford County lawmaker confirmed Friday he missed the final House vote last month on a controversial guns-in-parking lots bill to attend a fundraiser for his likely 4th Congressional District GOP primary bid.
Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, said the event had been scheduled for weeks before the bill, which he supports, was set for final action on Feb. 28.
"When I had scheduled to speak for these people in Franklin [at the fundraiser], I didn't realize the gun bill was going to be on the floor that particular day," Carr told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Carr is exploring running in the primary against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Jasper physician hoping to overcome disclosures he dated patients and urged a woman who said she was pregnant by him to get an abortion.
State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, already has announced he is challenging DesJarlais.
The guns bill passed, 72-22, and was sent to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. It allows handgun-carry permit holders to store weapons in their vehicles on nearly all parking lots in the state, regardless of owners' wishes.
Meanwhile, Federal Election Commission filings show that Carr's exploratory committee filed with the agency on Feb. 19 and is now an official campaign committee.
Carr said that although he has not officially decided he is running, the filing was legally required because he had raised and spent more than $5,000. He has raised "well in excess" of that, Carr said, not citing a figure.
"Don't infer that I'm running, but it does infer a seriousness that if I do run all the pieces are going to be in place," Carr said. "I haven't made my decision."