TN gun rights supporters campaign against longtime state rep - WSMV Channel 4

TN gun rights supporters campaign against longtime state rep

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Tennessee legislative session may have just ended, but gun rights advocates already have their sights set on next year.

The Tennessee Firearms Association is launching its new Williamson County branch with the goal of getting longtime State Rep. Charles Michael Sargent, R-Franklin, out of office, but he says not so fast.

Sargent has been a fixture in Tennessee politics for nine consecutive terms, chairing the powerful finance, ways and means committee on Capitol Hill. But Sargent apparently made some enemies this year in the gun rights community.

"We have legislators, like we always have had, that we think are stonewalling, blocking or stopping legislation that we support," said John Harris, with the Tennessee Firearms Association.

Specifically, the Tennessee Firearms Association says Sargent is at the top of its list when it comes to bad legislators. The group blames him, in part, for the failure of two key gun bills, including one that would have allowed people to openly carry guns if they met the legal requirements.

A second bill would have allowed guns into every local, state and federal park in Tennessee.

"Both of those died in Charles Sargent's committee. Neither one should have had a fiscal note," Harris said.

Three years ago popular Republican state representative Debra Maggart was defeated when the same organization came after her voting record on gun rights.

Sargent says he's surprised to find himself now in a similar spot.

"I'm all for guns," he said. "I'm a big Second Amendment person, and I think that's why I received an A rating or better every year as a legislature from the NRA."

Sargent says he's counting on voters to look at the bigger picture, rather than basing their voting decision on one particular hot-button issue.

"On this one issue, yes, I can say that it bothers me. But we have a $32.4 billion budget that is very important that we balance our budget - not raise taxes, less government - and that's what I've stood for the past 18 years," he said.

The Williamson County chapter of the Tennessee Firearms Association plans to meet Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Cozymel's in Cool Springs.

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