I lived in northeast Tennessee for 30 years, an area dominated by republicans since the civil war. I always felt like the proverbial fish swimming upstream, but that was before I moved to Florida, the Gunshine State. Now I feel like the proverbial fish in the barrel waiting for someone to take a shot. Under the leadership of Marion Hammer, a 73 year old woman and former NRA president Florida passed “shall issue” legislation in 1987 that prevented authorities from withholding concealed carry permits people considered dangerously violent including convicts and spouse abuser. Since then Florida has issued more than 2 million concealed-carry permits, including permits to two fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants, a known child molester and a dead guy (but we’re really only worried about dead guys voting). Hammer followed this with the first “Stand Your Ground” law, laws requiring employers to allow their employees to keep guns in their cars while at work, withholding the names of concealed-carry licensees from public records (in contradiction to an otherwise very open sunshine law) and allowing military personnel as young as 17 to get concealed-carry permits. The NRA is so used to success that they have become down-right petulant over the successful effort of GOP Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart to block passage of the “Safe Commute” bill that would mimic Florida’s law and allow employees to store weapons in their vehicles on company property. The NRA and the Tennessee Firearms Association are doing as much as possible to defeat Maggart including spending money on billboards comparing her to Barack Obama. Maggart has the support of powerful Tennessee Republicans including Governor Bill Haslam, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell who have taken the NRA to task for its efforts to defame Maggart. I don’t know Haslam or Harwell personally, but I do know Ramsey. He’s conservative to his core, but apparently still has enough sense to realize that some laws are simply stupid. It is delightful to find out about the squabble and it is to be hoped that the NRA and its fellow travelers will simply waste resources in a losing battle. That is what both Haslam and Harwell are predicting.
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