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Parking lot guns measure to get year’s 1st hearing

Posted on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 10:41 am

Ron Ramsey

NASHVILLE — Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey wants lawmakers to quickly approve a gun bill that dominated last year’s legislative session and caused aftershocks in the election season that followed. But concerns in the business community and the governor’s office present obstacles to a swift passage.

Ramsey’s proposal would guarantee people with handgun carry permits the right to store their firearms in their cars — even if parking lot owners object.

“Common sense will tell you that if you are one of the 370,000 people that have a gun carry permit that you should be able to keep it in your automobile and drive around,” Ramsey told reporters last week.

The measure backed by the National Rifle Association failed last year amid property rights arguments made by business community. The NRA and other gun rights advocates blamed House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart for the bill’s failure, and bankrolled a successful effort to oust her in the primary.

Ramsey’s bill would not follow the model set by the state law that allows bar and restaurant owners to post firearms bans at their premises. It also wouldn’t exclude areas like schools, colleges and universities — which Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has called crucial to his acceptance of a final bill.

“My primary concern was about schools and that whoever the ruling authority of that school was had the right to exclude that,” Haslam told The Associated Press last week. “I’ve been pretty upfront all along that that’s been a primary issue for me.”

Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby and the main House sponsor of the bill, says it’s unfair to handgun carry-permit holders to set restrictions where they can keep their weapons.

“Listen, if you want to have a gun in your car, that’s your business,” he said. “As long you leave it locked up in your car, not accessible to the outside and people can’t see it, your car should be your castle.”


—By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press

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