NASHVILLE -- State Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, ventured into national gun politics this week with an e-mail to GOP friends in which he called President Barack Obama a "socialist leader" and top administration officials a "gang of thugs."
But one of the two bills that has the local conservative fired up actually died in 2000 and never has been reintroduced, according to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Affairs.
The other bill was indeed introduced this year in the U.S. House after going nowhere in the previous Congress. But H.B. 45 has only one sponsor in the 435-member chamber and appears stuck in committee, according to House records.
In the e-mail sent Thursday from his personal account, Rep. Floyd wrote, "I pray all of us will take heed to what socialist leader Obama and his gang of thugs are trying to do to this country. We had better fear the government that fears our guns. Thanks to my friend Ed Warren and many others who are helping expose this bill."
He urged recipients of the e-mail to contact their federal representatives. The e-mail was first reported by Nashvillepost.com, an Internet news site.
White House spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai did not respond to an e-mail request for comment Friday. Efforts to contact Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester, who was reportedly in a meeting, were unsuccessful.
State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanoga, said regarding Rep. Floyd's calling President Obama a socialist that "fortunately, we're in a democratic society where we have free speech. ... I am sorry that Rep. Floyd feels that way because as elected leaders, I think it's incumbent ... to look at more than one side of an issue. I think that we should really be informed."
In his Nov. 11 missive, Rep. Floyd included a long chain of e-mails from others that included one from a "firstname.lastname@example.org" which claimed "SB2099" would require gun owners to report all guns they own on their IRS 1040 tax forms and pay a $50 per gun tax on each.
But in a May 29, 2009, posting on its Web site, the NRA institute said that Internet "rumors" about "SD-2099" are "recycling an old alert, which wasn't even very accurate when it was new." Urging gun owners to "drop this distraction," the NRA institute said a real bill, S. 2099, was introduced nine years ago by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. The bill "disappeared without any action" and while it did try to slap a $50 tax on handguns, it never sought to use the IRS, the NRA institute said.
The second bill referenced in the e-mail, H.R. 45, known as Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record Sale Act of 2008, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., on Jan. 6, 2009, according to U.S. House records. Noting that it failed in the previous Congress, the NRA institute's Web site said that "failing to attract any co-sponsors, it was referred for consideration to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where it now rests awaiting further action."
House records indicate it has yet to move. The NRA institute calls the bill a "licensing and registration scheme" that calls for all handgun owners to submit to the federal government an application that includes a photo, address, thumbprint, written firearm safety test and "private mental health records."
Rep. Floyd said in a Chattanooga Times Free Press interview, "I didn't research that thing (SB2099) back far enough before I sent that e-mail. It just made me mad when I saw it."
But he isn't backing away from his criticism of President Obama and Cabinet members.
"I tell you, right now we're so close to socialism it's not even funny," Rep. Floyd said. "We now own the auto manufacturers, we now own banksm and we're trying to own the health care system. ... We got a great socialist leader up there."
He said "you can't deny he (Obama) has a band of thugs around him. You look at Rahm Emanuel, and what's the guy (Eric Holder) who's the attorney general right now?"
The lawmaker doesn't think it is unduly harsh to characterize top Obama officials as a "group of thugs" given many of their backgrounds stem from the rough-and-tumble politics of Chicago.
"Cross them and you'll find out how big a thugs they are," he said. "I don't know if we can survive four years of this."
"I pray all of us will take heed to what socialist leader Obama and his gang of thugs are trying to do to this country. We had better fear the government that fears our guns. Thanks to my friend Ed Warren and many others who are helping expose this bill. Please contact our Congressmen and Senators and demand they let Americans know what is going on behind closed doors.
Blessings to all,