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In a down-the-rabbit-hole meeting this afternoon, a House subcommittee decided to make life safer for all Tennesseans by letting gunmen go strapped into saloons. "Anything we can do to keep these criminals from committing crimes in Tennessee is well worth doing," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Curry Todd, declared.
Also passed was a bill to keep the public from finding out who has a handgun permit. The records are now open, which is how the media discovered not long ago that the Safety Department was handing out permits to convicted felons.
The subcommittee delayed voting whether to allow handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into municipal, county and state parks. Under this bill, people could stride around with six-shooters on their hips right there next to the kids playing on the monkey bars. The week's delay was given to let lawmakers consider whether to strike city and county parks from the bill and allow guns only in state parks.
The state environment and conservation commissioner, the state recreational association and the state association of restaurants and hotels all argued to no avail that the bills are stupid. According to state statistics, only one in every 5 million visitors has some sort of crime problem in state parks every year, one official pointed out.
House Speaker Kent Williams made a brief appearance at the meeting to argue against guns in city parks. "I've attended a lot of sports events with my four boys who are grown now and a few with my grandchildren," Williams said. "I've seen too many fits of anger at these local parks. I've seen parents fighting parents, parents fighting coaches, coaches fighting coaches, coaches fighting umpires and umpires fighting umpires. I feel where there's a situation where there's going to be a fit of anger we don't need someone carrying a gun."
Under House rules, the speaker could have stuck around to break any tie votes. But it wouldn't have mattered because four of the six subcommittee members are Second Amendment freaks.