NASHVILLE - House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, on Wednesday announced creation of a seven-member Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force to study state gun laws and "identify if any changes may need to be made."
In a news release, McCormick said the task force "will study ways we can protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and will make recommendations to our majority about good public policy we all can support."
He said it amounts to a "worthwhile effort to streamline the process and build consensus within the General Assembly."
The panel is packed with advocates of expanding Tennessee handgun permit holders' ability to go armed in public places.
Creation of the group comes after majority Republicans drew considerable fire from a usual ally, the Tennessee Firearms Association, for not passing several bills expanding handgun permit holders' privileges.
That included a bill that would have forced private businesses to let employees store their weapons in locked vehicles parked on the company's property.
In a posting on the group's website this spring, TFA Director John Harris denounced some Republicans as "spineless" and warned of election repercussions.
The chairman of the GOP task force is Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who successfully sponsored a bill allowing the state's 300,000 handgun permit holders to go armed in bars, nightclubs and other establishments selling alcohol, provided they do not drink and the business does not post signs banning weapons.
Another member is Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, who is sponsoring legislation that would let public college and university employees with permits bring their weapons onto campuses.
Rep. Josh Evans, R-Greenbrier, sponsor of the so-called guns-in-trunks bill, is on the panel.
Others are Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma; Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens; Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, and Rep. Barrett Rich, R-Somerville.
Todd said the panel will enable Republicans to "craft responsible public policy and "make common sense recommendations to the majority in order to build consensus about what our legislative priorities for firearms need to be next session."