Tag Archives: NRA

NRA backs lawsuit against Knoxville gun ban

Loudon County resident Pandora Vreeland is suing Knoxville over the city’s decision to ban guns at Chilhowee Park during the Tennessee Valley Fair, reports the News Sentinel.

The National Rifle Association is backing the suit, filed Wednesday morning in Knox County Circuit Court. It seeks to overturn the ban.

“The Mayor and city of Knoxville are in clear violation of Tennessee law,” said Lacey Biles, director of NRA State and Local Affairs. “The 5 million members of the NRA stand in full support of the plaintiff and look forward to a positive resolution.”

Nashville attorney Lela Hollabaugh is representing Vreeland.

“We believe state law is clear and Knoxville is violating that law with regard to Chilhowee Park. We hope to have the issue addressed in court soon,” Hollabaugh said.

The Tennessee Firearms Association has stated its intention to file suit following the decision by Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero to ban guns from Chilhowee during the fair. That suit has not been filed yet.

The conflict stems from a law signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in April that allows handgun carry permit holders to bring their gun into parks. After several lawmakers questioned whether the law applied to event centers, an opinion issued by the attorney general’s office in July said the law applied to most municipally owned recreational venues.

Rogero disagreed, saying Chilhowee Park was not a park as defined under the law. She has stated her desire for the Legislature to provide clarity on the issue.

Corker welcomes NRA to gun-friendly Tennessee

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker welcomed gun rights supporters to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Nashville Friday, declaring Tennessee is a friendly place for both gunowners and gun makers, according to The Tennessean.

Corker was the only elected Tennessee official to speak at the NRA event. Gov. Bill Haslam, who has a dubious history with the gun rights group, was not invited to speak.

Corker mentioned gun rights — “I don’t have to tout my second amendment record. I have a record to prove it” — but focused more on welcoming people to the state for the convention.

He heralded local gun manufacturer Barrett, and noted the well-publicized decision by Beretta to leave Maryland and move to Tennessee.

Joking he was the most relaxed politician on the stage since he’s not running for president, he asked NRA members to be engaged in vetting the dozen or so GOP presidential hopefuls slated to also speak at the NRA event.

NRA leader, GOP candidates bash Hillary Clinton at Nashville convention

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The prospect of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s imminent presidential campaign dropped like a gift from the heavens at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention Friday.

A succession of potential Republican presidential rivals slung criticism and cracked jokes about the Democratic candidate-to-be, and NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, never given to understatement, predicted doom for the nation if she should win.

“Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair forced upon the American people to endure,” LaPierre said. The NRA executive vice president and CEO vowed that the powerful gun lobby would “stand shoulder to shoulder” to prevent her from becoming the next president.

Clinton plans to announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Sunday. Many speakers at the NRA convention took the opportunity to say something about it.

“Is this the ready-for-Hillary gathering?” joked Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Many in the capacity crowd at the 4,000-seat ballroom shouted back, “No!”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decried the “liberal, progressive worldview of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, and all of the other people who want to take the guns out of the hands of the good guys.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker added Clinton’s name to his criticism of the president.

“People like Hillary Clinton seem to think you measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government,” he said. “I think we measure success by just the opposite: by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”
Continue reading

Guns-in-parks supporters miss goal of enactment in time for NRA Nashville convention

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was supposed to be a welcoming gift from Tennessee lawmakers to the National Rifle Association and the more than 70,000 gun enthusiasts expected to attend the group’s annual convention in Nashville this weekend.

But a bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to be armed in all of the state’s parks — including greenways, playgrounds and sports fields — has gotten tied up amid bickering between Republicans who control both the state House and Senate.

A law enacted in 2009 to allow guns in Tennessee parks included an opt-out provision for city and county governments, and more than 70 communities initially decided to keep their gun bans in place.

Opponents argued the law creates confusion for permit holders about where they can legally be armed, and a bill was introduced seeking to end the exemption. The original version included an unusual twist: An effective date of April 6, which happened to be the Monday before the NRA’s annual convention.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, acknowledged that the measure had been timed to welcome the powerful gun lobby’s convention.

“The sponsor of the bill, when drafting it wanted to have a date in which this could be acknowledged at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting here in Nashville,” she said.

But the measure turned out to be far from a slam dunk, as Democrats vocally criticized the measure as potentially endangering children playing Little League or climbing on jungle gyms.
Continue reading

AP story on GOP presidential candidates speaking at Nashville NRA convention

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The parade of potential Republican presidential candidates speaking at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention isn’t one to make waves with the powerful gun-rights group. The contenders are sitting pretty in NRA ratings of their positions on gun issues, with scores ranging from A to A-minus.

The speakers get 10 minutes each on Friday to preach to the choir on their pro-gun bona fides.

“This is the ultimate choir,” said Chip Saltsman, who ran the 2008 presidential campaign of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, among speakers at the event. “Any time you get 70,000 pro-Second Amendment people in one place, it’s a good opportunity for anybody running on the Republican side.”

Indeed tens of thousands typically come for the convention and the activities surrounding it. Among 2016 GOP prospects expecting a friendly reception: Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas; former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Among those not coming: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s had a checkered relationship with the gun-rights lobby. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence canceled appearances.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign Tuesday, has a top rating from the NRA and was scheduled to be campaigning in Iowa.

Christie began his political career running in support of a semi-automatic weapons ban and received a C rating from the NRA when he ran for re-election in 2013. That year, the governor clashed with the group when he blasted its ad accusing President Barack Obama of hypocrisy in opposing armed security guards in schools. Christie called the ad's invocation of the president's daughters "reprehensible."

But Christie more recently drew praise from firearm rights advocates for his 2013 veto of a New Jersey ban on military-style, .50-caliber semi-automatic rifles, after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. And last year he rejected gun control legislation that would have further reduced the maximum size of ammunition magazines in the state.

Rubio, Santorum and Jindal are speaking to their second annual NRA convention in a row; Walker and Cruz sent video messages last year.

"They all bring unique life experiences, and they've all supported the Second Amendment," NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Barker said of the lineup. "This is an event that is a celebration of American values."

Bush did not attend last year's NRA meeting, though he has attended conferences in the past and as governor approved legislation supported by the group. In 2005, he signed the measure allowing people to use deadly force when threatened in public places. The law received attention after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in 2012. But Bush has also supported instant background checks for gun-show purchases of firearms, an unpopular position with the NRA.

Opposing groups plan a rally near the NRA event Saturday to press for more gun safety laws.

Can NRA folk bring guns to Nashville convention? Well, yes (but don’t take them to a park)

The National Rifle Association and the Music City Center have confirmed that gun owners with the proper carry permits can bring their guns with them into the center during the association’s convention, which will be held there this weekend, reports The Tennessean.

A spokeswoman for the center said its policy is to follow state law and to allow the organizations holding events inside the facility to decide whether they wish for people to carry their guns inside.

Music City Center spokeswoman Mary Brette Clippard confirmed to The Tennessean on Tuesday afternoon that the NRA had no problem with gun owners with the proper gun permits bringing their weapons inside.

The NRA published a message on its official Twitter page at about 1:45 p.m. acknowledging this.

“Lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Music City Center with the proper license in accordance with Tennessee law,” the tweet said.

Note: Pro-gun legislators have been aiming to have approved, by the NRA convention’s start on Friday, a bill authorizing handgun permit holders to take their weapons into local parks — including those in Nashville where they’re currently prohibited. Recent legislative squabbling over the guns-in-parks bill assures that won’t happen in time for the convention.

NRA has no time for Haslam as speaker at its Nashville convention

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When more than 70,000 gun enthusiasts descend on Nashville for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting this week, they won’t be hearing from one prominent Tennessean: Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker commended the governor’s office for helping bring the convention to Tennessee. But she said the NRA was unable to accommodate a speaking role for Haslam at the Friday opening of the event that will feature several potential Republican presidential candidates.

“It is a very lengthy program, and we’re trying to accommodate the 2016 candidates,” she said. “So unfortunately there wasn’t time to include everyone.”

The speakers Friday include U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Also welcoming the NRA at the meeting is Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who has announced he is not running for president.

Haslam has had a strained relationship with some gun rights advocates ever since he ran for his first term as governor in 2010. In that race, his GOP rivals criticized Haslam, who was then the mayor of Knoxville, for his failure to join the NRA until after he became a candidate, and for his past membership in Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group co-founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Continue reading

Ethics Commission stalemates on NRA giving free concert tickets to legislators

Members of the Tennessee Ethics Commission board couldn’t agree on whether the National Rifle Association’s tentative plans to give free concert tickets to state legislators would be a violation of state ethics laws, reports The Tennessean.

The NRA is headed to Nashville next week for its annual convention. An NRA attorney asked the Tennessee Ethics Commission recently about whether the gun rights advocacy group could give certain state lawmakers free tickets to a concert featuring country music artist Alan Jackson and comedian Jeff Foxworthy that’s scheduled during the convention.

The ethics commission staff drafted an opinion that outlined numerous ways such a gift would seemingly violate Tennessee ethics laws. But the draft is just a suggestion; the commission must come to a consensus on a final decision before it can issue an opinion.

In this case, it couldn’t reach consensus on the issue Thursday during its meeting, said state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Drew Rawlins.

“It means the commission is not taking a position on it at this point. They have not approved giving the tickets or said they cannot give the tickets,” Rawlins told The Tennessean.

Ethics law generally prohibits gifts to lawmakers from entities that employ lobbyists. There are certain exceptions to the law though; in the draft opinion, it says the NRA argues it should qualify for an exception. The organization argues the benefit of the ticket, listening to music, is the same for lawmakers as it is for anyone else at the concert.

The draft opinion countered by essentially saying that the fact the NRA wants to give the tickets to lawmakers because they are lawmakers is an “enhances the benefit” and is therefore not allowed.

…Tickets for the Jackson-Foxworthy event are officially sold out. As of Thursday evening, resale ticket prices through Ticketmaster ranged from $85 to more than $1,000.

Former NRA president: Conservatives should work together — for ‘pragmatic’ Lamar!

While David Keene spoke as the former president of the National Rifle Association at Lipscomb University Thursday night, Second Amendment issues were far from his most prominent topic, according to The Tennessean’s report.

Instead, Keene focused on the evolution of modern American conservatism and the coalition he believes is necessary to keep it together.
Keeping social, fiscal and military conservatives united and working together for common causes has become even more important as the political movement has grown in popularity, Keene told dozens at a lecture series led by renowned Tennessee lobbyist Tom Ingram.

“It’s happened because it’s gotten so much bigger now. It’s not like there are 18 of us anymore,” he told reporters after the lecture.

Keene came to Tennessee this week specifically to support the 2014 re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. He praised the Tennessee Republican’s focus on pragmatism over rhetoric and willingness to deliberate issues even all conservatives don’t agree on.

“I honestly believe he’s one of the best three or four senators in the country,” he said. “Lamar is a senator who wants to accomplish something, not just talk about it.”

UPDATE NOTE: The story provoked a snarl from Jeff Woods. (Woodsie has snarled at yours truly on occasion, too).

Ramsey Doesn’t Like Sealing Gun Permits; NRA Does

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A National Rifle Association-backed effort to block public access to handgun carry permits goes too far for Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, one of the top gun rights advocates in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Ramsey told The Associated Press that the ability to scrutinize the identities of people with handgun carry permits strengthens arguments that gun enthusiasts are worthy of carrying loaded firearms in public.
“Having the handgun carry records open actually helps the cause of the Second Amendment,” he said in an interview Thursday. “Because people can go look at those and realize that they truly are law-abiding citizens.”
Ramsey added, “I encourage people like the press to look through these to figure out whether there’s something we’re missing. When you don’t shine light on something, that’s when problems are caused.”
Ramsey’s position conflicts with NRA, which has long called for sealing the records so the public and news media cannot see who has the state-issued permits.
“Members of the media have no business possessing personal information of Tennesseans with handgun carry permits,” NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford said in an email.

Continue reading