Chris Cox, left, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, campaigns with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn at a Harrison gun shop Monday. Blackburn is the GOP candidate in the Tennessee race for U.S. Senate.

Backed by the National Rifle Association, GOP Senate hopeful Marsha Blackburn pledged Monday to work to protect gun rights and warned that her opponent will support judges who could threaten an individual's right to have a firearm in their home.

During a campaign rally at Carter Shooting Supply in Harrison, Blackburn, an 8-term member of Congress from Brentwood, Tenn., said she "will support constitutional judges that will not legislate from the bench" and resist legislative restrictions on law-abiding citizens' carrying and using guns.

"I have been with them [the NRA] on all the issues for protecting Second Amendment rights and to make sure that we preserve our freedom," she said.

The NRA gave Blackburn an "A' rating in the current campaign and gave Blackburn's opponent, Phil Bredesen, a "D" rating in the current campaign, even though he previously had received "A" ratings from the NRA in both of his gubernatorial campaigns.

"What changed?" asked Chris Cox, executive director for the NRA who campaigned Monday with Blackburn. "Phil Bredesen changed. He ran as a pro-Second Amendment candidate and then almost immediately turned his back on law-abiding gun owners."

Bredesen parted with the NRA over the right to carry handguns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, which Bredesen vetoed as governor but the Tennessee Legislature ultimately overturned and allowed in Tennessee.

"Like many Tennesseans, Gov. Bredesen is a lifelong sportsman and gun owner," said Alyssa Hansen, press secretary for Bredesen. "He supports and exercises the right to bear arms guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which should not be a partisan issue since it is enshrined in our Constitution."

Both Bredesen and Blackburn have voiced support for laws to allow police or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove a gun from a person deemed to be dangerous. Blackburn repeated Monday a claim she made in last week's debate that the U.S. House had moved legislation to limit so-called bump stocks such as those used last year in the Las Vegas mass shooting that help create more firepower. Blackburn blamed the U.S. Senate for not acting on the measure.

"We've already voted in the House to eliminate bump stocks," Blackburn said Monday.

Although a bill was introduced to ban bump stocks, the Congressional Quarterly reported last week that no such votes had yet been taken in Congress.

On Sept. 27, the U.S. Department of Justice submitted a proposed final rule to the Office of Management and Budget and began a 90-day review period for a measure that would make it illegal to sell or possess an accessory that transforms a semiautomatic gun into a machine gun.

Cox said the focus on bump stocks "is a distraction" and said gun control advocates including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California Sen. Diane Feinstein and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are backing Bredesen" because they have a vision of more government control and courts that are stacked against individual freedoms."

But Democrats contend Blackburn is not telling the truth when she claims the House voted to ban bump stocks.

"After 16 years in the Swamp, Tennessee voters can't trust Congresswoman Blackburn to tell the truth on any issue, including guns," said Mark Brown, Tennessee Victory 2018 spokesperson. "She will say anything or do anything in her desperate attempt to hang on to power."

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340.