This all came up at this weekend's tea party debate. (We just finished watching the video.) When the moderator asked about gun rights, that's when Wamp stuck out his chin and started talking like Clint Eastwood:
"I sleep with a gun next to my head and I'm not going to tell you what it is or frankly who it's titled to. To me it's like a right that we have and I'm a no exceptions, no excuses kind of guy. I think governors, as this separation takes place in our country between good places and bad places and as long as this nanny state federal government is going in that direction, this is one of those things we may have to meet them at the state line about. And I"m just telling you Tennesseans because there are some tough times coming. Don't elect some sissy wannabe as your governor. It's time for tough people standing up to protect what we have left in this country. We're going to need those kind of tough people. This is one of those issues we're going to have to buck up on."
Then he handed the microphone to—guess who?—Haslam, who mumbled something about how he agrees there's a right to bear arms. He also said he would have signed the guns-in-bars bill if he had been governor, but he didn't sound all that enthusiastic about it. Then, looking relieved, he handed the microphone to the next guy. But the tea partiers weren't letting him off the hook.
"We had shooting in a church, a school, a mall" in Knoxville, he said, and he wanted to try to do something about gun violence (presumably something besides arming every single man, woman and child in Tennessee).
"We understand that criminals with guns are a problem in our society and we have to stand up and do something about it. We can't keep ignoring that problem. That's a real problem. Now that group, to be honest with you, took a different turn and went for advocacy of things that I'm not for and, to be honest with you, I'm glad I'm not in the group, shouldn't have signed it to begin with. But it came out of a real honest, heartfelt concern about the number of criminals on our streets with guns."
That was a good answer, but we doubt it endeared Haslam to the tea party. We bet he'll be happy after he wins the primary when he can start talking to voters who don't hold it against a candidate if he's against illegal guns.