Update: "While I am a strong supporter of second amendment rights, I am shocked at Bill Haslam's lack of common sense and total disregard for public safety. This is irresponsible. Bill Haslam is willing to put the safety of Tennessee families in jeopardy, and this speaks to the core of his character."— Mike McWherter
Bill Haslam told the state Firearms Association last night that if the legislature decided to allow the wide-open, unregulated carrying of firearms in Tennessee, he’d sign the bill into law. It took a few minutes of badgering Haslam, but eventually the gun freaks pried that promise from the soon-to-be governor. Listen to the exchange here.
“If the legislature passed it and brought that to me, I said I would sign it,” Haslam said.
It’s not an unlikely prospect. The legislature’s new GOP majority was famous for expanding gun rights over the past two years. If Republicans gain as many as a half dozen seats in the state House in the Nov. 2 elections—as many people now are predicting—the legislature almost certainly would seriously consider joining Vermont, Alaska and Arizona as the only states that allow residents to carry firearms without a permit. Yeehaw!
Our old pal Leonard Embody—a.k.a. the Radnor Lake Rambo—opens the questioning on the audio tape of last night’s meeting. He succinctly states the gun nut philosophy on the matter of state permits.
“I don’t need a permit to go to church. I don’t need a permit to walk down the street. I don’t need a permit to talk. Do I need a permit to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee? And if I don’t, are you going to support legislation that’s going to change the way the permit system is in this state so that citizens have the right to bear arms and they don’t have to beg the state for a permit?”
After Haslam expresses some resistance, Embody and his buddies pounce:
Q: Really, is it a privilege or a right?
Haslam: I think it’s a right. But here’s the reality. I’m a mayor, governor. We have to live in the real world.
Q: In your opinion, does pragmatism always trump the Constitution?
Haslam: No it doesn’t at all.
Q: What other parts of the Constitution do you want to do away with? The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution. What other parts of the Constitution do you want to throw away for practicality? Just because it’s inconvenient.
Haslam: No, no, I’m just saying …
Q: Just because you don’t like it yourself.
Haslam: No, that’s not it at all. That’s not what you heard me say at all. I’m just saying, what could really get passed in the legislature?
Haslam succumbed shortly thereafter. We think this a sign of things to come. When the right-wing zealots and frothers make demands, Gov. Haslam will fold like a cheap lawn chair.