Gardenhire shoots back at gun group

Sen. Todd Gardenhire is criticizing the Tennessee Firearms Association, reports Andy Sher, after the organization accused the Chattanooga Republican of breaking his word by not backing an “open carry” bill that failed in a Senate committee this week.

The bill failed in the Judiciary Committee on a 4-4-1 vote with Gardenhire abstaining. It needed five votes to pass and proceed to the Senate floor.

… After the vote, the Tennessee Firearms Association, headed by attorney John Harris, issued a release criticizing both Gardenhire for abstaining and Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntington, who voted no.

“Constitutional Carry Held Hostage by broken oaths in Tennessee Senate,” the email’s headline reads.

“Sen. Gardenhire ‘passed’ — that is he pulled a Barack Obama and was ‘present but not voting,'” the release said.

But Gardenhire, who is a handgun permit holder, returned fire, saying he never agreed to vote for the bill and told the sponsor, Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, he wouldn’t. Gardenhire said he also told Green he would not vote against his bill.

He then went on to call Harris a bully who “can’t take it when he loses.”

Gardenhire said the state’s decades-old handgun carry permit law, which requires criminal background checks and firearms training, provides important safeguards.

“I’m a strong believer in the Second Amendment,” Gardenhire said. “But this bill has come up time and time again always by the same individual, Mr. Harris. He makes his living by stirring the pot on these issues, always bringing people bills that nobody can vote for because they’re way out of line.”