House sends parking lot guns bill to governor - WSMV News 4

House sends parking lot guns bill to governor

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The House has voted to send to the governor's desk a bill to allow the state's nearly 400,000 handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked.

The chamber voted 72-22 to pass the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby after rejecting a series of Democratic proposals to maintain business owners' rights to ban weapons on their property and to create exceptions for schools and colleges.

House Speaker Beth Harwell told Republican colleagues before the vote that members of the business community are "holding their nose" over property rights concerns about the measure.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has raised concerns about the measure in the past, but has not said whether he will sign the bill into law.

The controversial plan already passed a full Tennessee Senate vote on Feb. 11.

The Senate approved the bill 28-5 after rejecting Democratic efforts to add potential exclusions for businesses.

"If they are denied to have that weapon, should they choose to have one in their automobile while at work, then they are denied the right for self protection to and from work," State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said last week when the measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The measure backed by the National Rifle Association failed last year amid property rights arguments made by the 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.

It's an issue that has caused a lot of controversy at the legislature, and Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed concerns in the past about allowing guns anywhere on college campuses.

Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the proposal could impact future job growth in the state and corporate relocations into Tennessee.

"This is a subject that's important to them, and when they decide if they are going to expand a new operation, they might look at another state that's not as gun friendly," Ozier said.

But lawmakers said it's important to protect the legal permit holders who may be carrying their guns anyway.

"When you pull into a grocery store parking lot, or stop at your favorite fast food restaurant, or look for a parking lot at the mall before Christmas, it's a pretty safe bet that there are cars around you that belong to carry permit holders and there may be weapons in those cars," Johnson said.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey sponsored the Senate bill, and State Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, sponsored the House version.

Copyright WSMV 2013 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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