Gun group blasts Haslam for support of House Finance Committee chairman’s campaign

Gov. Bill Haslam will help a Williamson County lawmaker face a challenge from gun rights activists with an appearance tonight in Franklin, reports The Tennessean.

The Republican governor is scheduled to speak to supporters of state Rep. Charles Sargent as he kicks off his re-election campaign at 5 p.m. at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, also will appear as a musical performer; he plays guitar.

The governor’s support comes as Sargent is taking heat from local conservative activists, particularly over the defeat of a bill that would have let Tennesseans carry guns openly without a permit. Although Sargent said he supported the measure, it was voted down 10-1 by the House Finance Subcommittee.

Sargent, R-Franklin, chairs the subcommittee’s parent, the House Finance Committee. He was absent from the hearing room when the vote was taken.

The Tennessee Firearms Association responded by inviting Sargent’s primary opponent, Steve Gawrys, to speak to its members last month in Williamson County. Other conservative activists, including former talk show host Steve Gill and Act! for America activist Lee Douglas, have gone as far as endorsing Gawrys.

Note: Here is the Tennessee Firearms Association news release on Haslam’s support for Sargent:
NASHVILLE, TN – On the eve of Representative Charles Sargent’s 2014 kickoff campaign event featuring Governor Haslam, Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris, made the following statement:

“Governor Haslam coming to Franklin to campaign for Representative Sargent provides further evidence of their relationship and that the Governor is rewarding Mr. Sargent for keeping certain pro-gun bills off the Governor’s desk this year by seeing to it that they are stopped in his Finance committees even if it takes clearly false fiscal notes and other shenanigans to do so. This attempt by Governor Haslam to come to the rescue of the embattled incumbent is reminiscent of his desperate but futile campaign efforts to protect for House Republican caucus leader, Debra Maggart, who was soundly defeated in 2012 in her primary.

This legislation was so strong that it passed the Senate on a 25-2 vote. Yet, House Leadership and Governor Haslam worked hard to make sure it never came to a vote on the floor of the House. Even after acknowledging that the bill had no fiscal impact, the House Finance subcommittee on which Sargent serves killed the bill on a 10-1 vote.

It is no secret that Governor Haslam opposes pro-gun bills and has used Representative Sargent as his ‘hatchet man’ to kill good Second Amendment legislation. The voters of his district are fed up with this type of failed leadership on conservative issues including the Second Amendment.”

According to the Facebook event page, the fundraiser with Governor Haslam for the Sargent campaign will be at Puckett’s Grocery in Franklin on Tuesday night at 5 pm. Senator Jack Johnson will be providing music.

Last week Representative Sargent was caught flip-flopping on gun rights at a town hall meeting in Franklin as seen in this video.

Representative Charles Sargent is currently being challenged in the Republican primary by local conservative entrepreneur and TFA member Steve Gawrys.

The Tennessee Firearms Association was founded in 1995 and formed to defend the right to keep and bear arms and to educate the citizenry on the responsible use, ownership, and carrying of firearms. The TFA is Tennessee’s only no-compromise gun group.