Tennesseans could be a bit more discreet about carrying a handgun under a bill approved in the state House last night. The legislation would close carry permit records to the public.
The bill gives just one exception. If someone is suspected of being a felon or illegal alien – precluded from having a carry permit – the person’s information could be released. But there has to be some sort of evidence to show the Tennessee Department of Safety in the form of a government document, such as a warrant or a restraining order.
“Yes or no – basically – as to whether they have a carry permit,” said bill sponsor Rep. William Lamberth.
His bill is supported by the Tennessee Firearms Association, which wants to take down an online database. The Commercial Appeal newspaper has a searchable list of the names, birth years and zip codes of the state’s nearly 400,000 permit holders.
Bills in the Tennessee legislature that attempt to block the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state are unconstitutional, according to a just-released opinion from the state’s top lawyer.
The Tennessee Attorney General memo says the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause trumps state statutes, making it unlawful to nullify firearms laws made on the national level. He goes on to say the state legislature also can’t take a backdoor route and criminalize the enforcement of gun laws in Tennessee, which is exactly what a bill from Senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet does.
“I think he has an opinion just like the rest of us have an opinion,” says Beavers.
She says she will continue to push her legislation anyway, arguing that the Tenth Amendment gives states the right to govern themselves.
Hoping to reduce gun violence in Kentucky, two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill that would allow Kentucky State Police to set regulations banning certain firearms or high-capacity magazines.
The bill, which state Sen. Kathy Stein plans to file in the Senate on Thursday, would also allow cities and colleges to ban guns and would require private background checks for every gun sale in Kentucky.
Stein, a Democrat from Lexington, said she's not seeking to infringe on Second Amendment rights from the U.S. Constitution.
"We value the Second Amendment," Stein said. " We recognize that there are very legitimate uses people have for guns, for sporting, for hunting and yes, for self-protection."
The bill's supporters say they are optimistic for a hearing in the short 2013 General Assembly session.