TN Republican legislators, generally, stop short of embracing Trump’s push on gun legislation

President Donald Trump’s endorsement of raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles, banning “bump stocks” and tightening gun background checks have drawn something less than overwhelming and enthusiastic support from leaders of Tennessee’s Republican-controlled legislature, according to media reports.

From the Times Free Press:

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Republican Senate speaker, told reporters, “I think the president is headed in the right direction” in terms of raising the age from 18 to 21 when it comes to someone’s ability to buy semi-automatic weapons.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, meanwhile, demurred on the assault-style weapons, telling reporters she has “a little bit of conflict here because I bought one for my son. … When that’s the only thing he wants for Christmas, what do you do, right?”

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said he backs “discussing” an age limit change at the state level.

“If there are restrictions on what 18-year-olds can do … it sort of begs the question … ” said Norris. “I’m glad they are going to take it up there” at the federal level.

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said he could support increasing the age to purchase assault-style weapons to 21 and banning bump stock sales.

Two Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis and Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, have introduced legislation to ban sales of bump stocks. Ketron said that although he wasn’t aware of their bill, he “probably would” back it.

Kate Derrick, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, said in an email that the governor believes proposals to raise the age to 21 on semi-automatic weapon purchases and to ban bump stocks “both are suggestions that should be considered.

… Another Trump proposal to arm teachers has support from Republicans, who want to tweak a state law that allows designated school staff to be trained up to police standards and carry firearms in school.

Ketron said it’s an expensive proposition for educators, and Republicans are eyeing a private-sector firm that’s less costly than training offered by the state’s Peace Office Standards Training Commission.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, a candidate for governor, blasted Republicans’ trepidation in considering stronger measures, accusing them of bowing to the National Rifle Association, whose president, Wayne LaPierre, offered a stout defense of gun rights on Thursday.

“It’s all about politics and getting re-elected,” Fitzhugh said. “That’s the bottom line. Now if there’s enough opposition [from Tennesseans], maybe lawmakers and politicians won’t feel the need to cow to something they know isn’t right.

“Teachers don’t become teachers to become policemen,” said Fitzhugh.

Further from The Tennessean, which characterizes theoverall GOP legislator response as “tepid.”

In a joint statement, House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and House GOP Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams said they appreciate the president’s efforts and are open to having a meaningful discussion in Tennessee.

“We are committed to upholding current laws that help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who suffer from mental illness. At the same time, we must do all we can in order to protect the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding citizens.”


Ketron said he would support teachers having guns. He said any teacher that wanted to carry would only do so voluntarily.

“What would rather do, step in front of bullets, or be able to shoot back and save other children?” He asked.

However, the governor did not think that was the best way to handle the situation in Tennessee.

“I don’t know that’s the solution, because, while that might help in a few cases, there’s not many teachers that A, are going to want to do that and B, are going are going to want to take on that primary role to do that,” said governor Haslam.

6 Responses to TN Republican legislators, generally, stop short of embracing Trump’s push on gun legislation

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    The Las Vegas shooter was over 60 so no more guns for them. How old was the Ft. Hood shooter? In his 30’s? Forget guns for them? Does anyone besides me notice that every incident is met with “solutions” that do almost nothing that would have prevented the incident but would serve to deprive law abiding citizens of more and more of their Second Amendment rights.

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      SSG Nathan Horner, US Army, FA, Ret. says:

      There is not gun law that they could conceive that would stop the shootings. If someone is out for blood there is nothing you can do other than kill him first. It sounds harsh but its kill or be killed when a gun is involved, and the more you allow law abiding citizens to have and carry a gun the less gun violence will happen. Democrats and liberals are either blind or in complete denial to the fact that its not the gun or type of gun that is the problem it is the person using the gun that is problem

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    David Collins says:

    Sorry Stuart, but even the conservative bloc of the US Supreme Court said that no one has a constitutional right to own an assault weapon. Outlawing private ownership of military type assault weapons does not step on anyone’s rights under the Second Amendment. These guns are designed for one purpose and that is to kill people. Private citizens don’t need to be in the business of killing lots of people in the shortest amount of time. And far as the burglars, home invaders and others of such ilk that the NRA always wants to use to justify private ownership of these killing machines, a 12 gauge shotgun can accomplish the same goal. (I’m glad Beth Harwell’s son didn’t want a kilo of heroin for Christmas!)

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Are you certain that the Supreme Court used the term “assault weapon” which is more of a general marketing term than a precisely descriptive one. The last time I looked the Supreme Court back in the 1939 in the Miller case upheld a federal statute regulating the interstate transportation of machine guns and short-barreled shotguns. On the other hand, in 2001 the Fifth Circuit in Emerson indicated that “. . .Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to privately keep and bear their own firearms that are suitable as individual, personal weapons and are not of the general kind or type excluded by Miller. . . .” That was the state of the law.

      In any case, if you are correct it is yet another regrettable decision from the Supreme Court. For example, the lunatic at Virginia Tech killed 32 and wounded 17 through the use of two hand guns as I recall. More carnage, no scary looking “assault weapons” involved. What happened in Florida was due to a maddening failure of government on various levels, the FBI, the local police, and the school bureaucracy as well as the shooter, not guns.

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    Michael Lottman says:

    Haslam is such a coward–even the meekest of possibly effective gun control measures are “something that should be considered.” How did he ever get to be governor? What is he afraid of now? He has had little trouble signing virtually all the anti-gun control measures that have come along during his tenure. Isn’t it time to recognize he was in the wrong and to try to set the record straight?

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    SSG Nathan Horner, US Army, FA, Ret. says:

    Unfortunately he is right. If our schools are setting aside safe places and bringing in puppies because students are upset over Trump becoming president, do you really thing that the liberal academia will actually carry a firearm. I have a better idea: lets put our vets to work. Background check them, police train them and put them to work guarding our schools. That’s what the resource officers are doing. I think we should hold the parents more responsible if their child causes issues or brings guns or weapons to school.

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