Category Archives: Guns

Cohen joins House floor sit-in for gun control vote

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and dozens of other House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor Wednesday, demanding a vote on legislation to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, according to Michael Collins.

Cohen and other Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia brought the House’s morning proceedings to an abrupt halt to call attention to House GOP leaders’ refusal to permit a vote on gun-control legislation.

“Moments of silence have grown old and seem hollow,” said Cohen, a Memphis Democrat. “The American people want a bill to prohibit gun sales to suspected terrorists to come to the floor and pass. If there is a reasonable threat to prohibit an individual from flying, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon. In addition, gun show and internet loopholes need to be closed when purchasing guns.”

The Democrats’ protest came just 10 days after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at an Orlando gay nightclub in the nation’s worst mass shooting. On Monday, the Senate failed to advance four gun-control measures.

Wednesday’s protest began when Lewis, a leading figure from the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, delivered a fiery speech and called for Democrats to join him on the floor.

Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, Tennessee’s only other Democratic congressman, gave a report to WTVF-TV on the protest. An excerpt:

Republicans in charge called a recess and turned off the floor cameras. Democratic lawmakers resorted to social media pictures and live streaming the day-long event.

“This is a very rare moment in the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D, Nashville) via Facetime, “I’ll show you what’s going on behind me normally phones are not allowed on the house floor but this is an exception.”

Cooper said he just wants to do his job.

“This is about the laziest congress in history and we should do our job which is to vote,” he said, “and whether you vote for or against these measures you should go on record and vote.”

Alexander, Corker stick to party line in Senate gun votes

Tennnessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker backed two Republican proposals Monday designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists but voted against two Democratic gun measures that would have been more restrictive, reports Michael Collins.
All four measures fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

Alexander and Corker voted in favor of a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have let federal law enforcement officials delay gun sales to suspected terrorists — including those on watch and no-fly lists — for three days and then halt the sales, but only after proving probable cause before a judge.

…The Tennessee senators also supported a separate proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that called for research on the causes of mass shootings and would have increased funding for the background check system, but would not have expanded the types of gun sales that require them.

…Senate Democrats argued the Republican proposals were inadequate. They offered their own gun-control proposals.

One would have allowed the attorney general to deny a gun sale to anyone if she has a “reasonable belief” — a lesser standard than “probable cause” — that the buyer was likely to engage in terrorism. The other would have closed the “gun show loophole” by requiring every gun purchaser to undergo a background check, and would have expanded the background check database.

Alexander and Corker voted against both measures.

Note: The press release spin from Alexander is HERE; from Corker, HERE.

UT prepares for guns on campus

By Steve Megargee, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee has begun grappling with the implementation of a new law that allows employees to carry concealed weapons on campuses of state colleges.

UT Police Chief Troy Lane held a news conference Thursday to discuss the new law, which goes into effect July 1. Under the law, full-time employees of public colleges and universities who have handgun permits will be able to carry concealed weapons on campus. However, the law does not cover every contingency. So individual schools are drawing up specific policies.

Lane said he already is getting questions about the various exceptions, such as a provision that weapons are not allowed in “stadiums, gymnasiums or auditoriums where University-sponsored events are in progress.”

“What constitutes a school-sanctioned event or a university activity? Are we going to have to better define what is an auditorium and what is not an auditorium?” he asked. “We’re going to have to feel through this process for the next several months.”

Suggestions for handling some tricky situations are outlined in guidance provided by UT. Continue reading

Holt to pay for 5 gun permits; says other legislators should do same

News release from state Rep. Andy Holt
Nashville, Tenn., June 16, 2016—In wake of the Orlando Terror Attack, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has announced that he will personally pay for the first five people that contact his office to get their handgun carry permits.

“I want people to arm themselves,” said Holt. “Why am I doing this? It’s very simple. People need to be prepared, and we’ve got a situation where government and those on the left are trying to disarm people in the middle of some of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades. It’s literally crazy. Furthermore, I think members of the LGBT community are starting to realize how crazy it is that Democrats want to leave them completely defenseless, no less in the wake of a terror attack that explicitly targeted them. People have a right to defend themselves.”

Holt says the first five people that contact his office will be directed on how to apply for their permit, and he will cover the cost for a 3-year permit.

“Look, it’s no secret that I’m a conservative, and I may not necessarily agree with the LGBT lifestyle, but I would never have these people become sitting ducks for those that wish them harm,” said Holt. “That goes for anyone that may disagree with me politically. I want every last person in the State of Tennessee to be prepared to defend themselves should the need arise.”

Holt says he is also calling on other legislators to follow along and offer to pay for 5 others to get their permits to help raise awareness.

Andy Holt is a Republican State Representative for District 76, which includes Weakley, as well as parts of Carroll and Obion counties.

Holt to press charges against ‘Democrat activist’ caller (UPDATE: Caller ‘freaked out’?)

News release from Rep. Andy Holt
NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 14, 2016— On Tuesday, the office of Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) was able to identify the caller who made multiple calls on Monday evening threatening the life of staffer Michael Lotfi and Holt himself as Democrat activist Michael Barrach.

“We spoke with law enforcement and other staffers here at the capitol and they say the number and behavior matches that of Mr. Barrach,” said Lotfi. “In fact, we learned this isn’t the first time Mr. Barrach has made threats to Republican legislators and staffers at the Capitol. According to other staffers, he’s called at least 3 other Republican legislators recently and made similar threats.”

Holt plans to press charges and move forward with a criminal investigation. Continue reading

Holt, staffer report phone threats over gun giveaway

News release from Rep.Andy Holt
NASHVILLE, June 13, 2016—On Monday evening, the office of State Representative Andy Holt received multiple phone calls from a Memphis, Tennessee phone number. The caller on the other end of the phone, who did not identify himself, made multiple threats to Rep. Andy Holt’s executive legislative assistant, Michael Lotfi and Holt himself. The caller made the threats in response to comments Holt made earlier in the day regarding his intentions to give away an AR-15.

“The caller dialed our office multiple times starting at around 5:00 PM and asked whether or not Representative Holt was in the office and when he would be returning,” said Lotfi. “He then went on to threaten to ‘beat our asses’ and made multiple mentions of the fact that he had many guns and knew how to use them. I told the caller that I was not at liberty to discuss Representative Holt’s campaign and that he should not call the Capitol regarding such issues. However, he continued to call and started to make threats. Holt is a big guy, as am I, and we can both take care of ourselves, but we felt the need to report this to the state troopers considering that there are many children and women here at the capitol on a daily basis.”

Lotfi began recording the phone conversations after the caller continued to dial the office. Continue reading

Rep. Holt sticks to gun giveaway plans

State Rep. Andy Holt is firmly standing behind his decision to give away a semi-automatic rifle of the same model used in the Orlando shooting massacre, reports The Tennessean.

While announcing his plans last week to hold his first annual “Hog Fest and Turkey Shoot,” Holt, R-Dresden, said he will give away an AR-15 as a door prize to an attendee of his June 25 fundraiser.

The event is also scheduled to include a turkey shoot — participants are encouraged to bring their own rifle and ammo.

Holt said despite Sunday’s massacre in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, he remains stalwart in his belief that the weapon used in the mass shooting is not to blame.

“It has nothing to do with the style of weapon. It has everything to do with who’s behind the weapon,” said Holt, who has sponsored several gun bills, including one recently enacted law that allows full-time employees at Tennessee colleges and universities to carry weapons on campus.

Holt said the weapon is the type that can be used for multiple purposes including hunting, target shooting and self-defense.

He said the only thing wrong with the AR-15 is that “it’s black and it looks real scary” adding, “If I beat somebody to death with a hammer that’s just a hammer. But if I was to take and wrap it up in electrical tape and make it black I guess that would make it an assault hammer.”

Holt said there is no functional difference between any semi-automatic weapon and an AR-15, and argued that it didn’t matter that an AR-15 had been used in various American mass shootings in recent years, including the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater and last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. “It’s not about the gun. It has everything to do with the position and condition of that person’s heart that’s behind the gun behind pulling the trigger,” he said.

UPDATE/Note: TNDP Chair Mary Mancini says Holt is a “reckless and irresponsible gun owner.” Release below. Continue reading

Democratic leader’s trip to White House rejected for reimbursement

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee state senators have been reimbursed for out-of-state travel for meetings from Florida to Alaska, and on topics ranging from school vouchers to the dangers of radical Islam. But GOP leaders say a Democrat’s trip to the White House doesn’t qualify.

After failing to get reimbursed for a White House meeting on curbing gun violence on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis is calling for changes to the state Legislature’s travel policies.

“Those on the other side of the aisle are frequently going to conferences on the state tab to talk about ways to expand access to guns,” Harris said. “This is part of being able to confront that, to engage in that debate and to be informed.”

Tuesday’s meeting is hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and includes governors, attorneys general, state lawmakers and local and tribal officials.
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Governor goes along with guns-on-campus bill

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill allowing staff and faculty at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities to be armed on campus became law Monday without the Republican governor’s signature.

Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement that he disagreed with the bill for not allowing institutions “to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus.”

But the governor acknowledged that the final version of the measure had addressed concerns raised by college administrators during the legislative process by including provisions protecting schools from liability and a requirement to notify law enforcement about who is armed on campus.

“Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations,” Haslam said.

The law, which allows faculty and staff with state-issued handgun carry permits to carry, is more limited than a bill awaiting a decision by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. That measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with the proper permit.
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