Fighting Back

Legislative notebook: Lawmakers look to block federal move on guns

By Tom Humphrey
NASHVILLE Concerned about the prospect of new federal gun restrictions, perhaps by presidential executive order, two East Tennessee legislators have filed a bill that would prohibit the use of any personnel or funds from Tennessee's state or local governments to enforce any such moves.

"No public funds of this state or any political subdivision of this state shall be allocated to the implementation, regulation or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation that becomes effective on or after Jan. 1, 2013, that adversely affects a United States citizen's ability to lawfully possess or carry firearms in this state," declares HB10/SB40.

A separate sentence of the proposed law says "no personnel or property of this state or any political subdivision" of this state can be used for such purposes unless federal funding is provided to cover the costs.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro signed on as first co-sponsor in the Senate.

Faison said the measure is designed as an assertion of state rights in dealing with the federal government and is patterned after a bill he successfully sponsored last year that forbids state or local funds being used to support a proposed federal regulation putting new restrictions on juveniles working on farms. The child labor bill passed 70-24 in the House, 28-0 in the Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam.

"The Founding Fathers envisioned the states as the fathers and the federal government as the child," said Faison in an interview.

"The child has become a brat," he said. "States need to stand up and take back that power that was derived from the states."

Faison noted that Vice President Joe Biden is leading an effort to draft new federal gun control legislation, inspired by the murder of 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school. It is particularly alarming, Faison said, that Biden has raised the possibility of imposing new restrictions on guns through a presidential executive order.

Three other bills filed last week deal with guns. They are:

HB6 by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, which would allow handgun permit holders to take their weapons into schools, provided they have the school superintendent's approval, take a 40-hour class in law enforcement and load their gun with "frangible bullets." Niceley and Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, have received considerable attention with other proposals for guns in schools, but have not filed bills yet.

HB9 by freshman Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, would make confidential the records of handgun permit holders, except to law enforcement personnel.

HB28 by Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, would authorize administrative law judges to carry handguns.