Tennessee has the highest rate of gun purchase denials in the nation, according to a February report by the U.S. Department of Justice that is the focus of a Tennessean story. In 2010, Tennessee rejected about 4.3 percent of gun buyers’ purchases based on state criminal background checks, according to the report — more than twice the national average of about 1.5 percent.
A majority of those who appeal their cases win, allowing them to eventually get a gun. Just like Armentrout did.
It’s a system that annoys both buyers and sellers and could become an even bigger headache if new federal efforts to require background checks for all gun sales are successful.
“I can’t even imagine how they’re even going to keep up with the processing,” Armentrout said. “They can barely keep up now.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which conducts a $10 background check on all gun purchases from gun stores, acknowledges it has a high denial rate.
Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the agency, said that its criminal background system, called the TBI Instant Check System, or TICS, is great for recording arrests but doesn’t always get updated as to the outcome of those cases.
“Missing dispositions has been an issue with criminal records; however, it has vastly improved over the last 10 years,” Helm said. “When an appeal is filed on a denied transaction, TICS staff diligently tracks down each record from clerks’ offices across the state to locate any missing information, which also updates the criminal history system.”
The Commercial Appeal will not be forced to release comments and identifying information about those who commented on stories related to the public controversies over the reorganization of Shelby County’s public schools, the newspaper reports. U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays issued a ruling Thursday night rejecting the Shelby County Commission’s motion to compel The Commercial Appeal to release that information. The commission’s lawyers from the firm Baker Donelson had filed a motion last week asking the judge to force The Commercial Appeal to comply with a July subpoena request asking for the identities of all online commenters to 45 stories that ran between Nov. 19, 2010, and July 12, 2012.
In denying the motion, Mays wrote that the information would not be relevant to the case.
“The Commission’s claim that the information it seeks concerning the opinions of the general readership of The Commercial Appeal is relevant to determining whether racial considerations were a motivating factor in the Tennessee General Assembly’s decision to enact the Municipal School Acts is not well taken,” the judge ruled.
“The information sought by the Commission is not relevant to the underlying issue to be decided and is not an appropriate subject of discovery in this case.”
The commission claimed that harvesting some comments and identifying information about the commenters could help them prove that new state laws enabling new municipal school districts in suburban Shelby County were motivated at least in part by racially discriminatory intent.
Senate Democrats have asked the chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, Republican Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman, to open the committee for a hearing on voting irregularities. Yager replied that it’s not necessary.
Here’s an exchange of news releases on the matter: News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Democratic legislative leaders have renewed calls for a hearing on voting irregularities before early voting begins for the November elections.
That election was fraught with issues. While Davidson County has decided not to use the electronic poll books again, other issues remain unresolved by state elections officials.
Voters are still coming forward with issues. Some received the wrong ballot, and others were falsely told they were at the wrong precinct. County and state officials disagree over who is ultimately responsible for elections.
“It could all happen again,” the letter states. “It is critical we hold a hearing on these issues before early voting begins.”
The letter calls for on State and Local Committee Chairman Sen. Ken Yager to hold a hearing on the issue. It was sent Monday by the Democratic members of that committee, Sens. Thelma Harper, Joe Haynes and Lowe Finney.
“Our state has put considerable effort into fighting voter fraud, a problem that barely exists,” the letter states. “Now we have irregularities in our largest cities that could open a door to election fraud, and it is time we act. We must do our part to return integrity to our elections.”
Read the complete letter HERE.
— Statement from Sen. Ken Yager, issued through Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), September 25, 2012 — “There are two state agencies, the Division of Elections and the State Election Commission, which are charged with the responsibility of reviewing this matter and making any recommendation for changes. These are the most appropriate bodies to review any issues related to the August election.”
“The State Election Commission is a bipartisan board whose members are appointed by the General Assembly as recommended by the Republican and Democratic caucuses. ”
“Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins requested an independent audit by the office of the Comptroller of Treasury to fully investigate the matter.”
“Both of these agencies are currently discharging their responsibilities fully and appropriately. I have confidence that they will make any changes needed after reviewing all of the facts; therefore, I see no reason to duplicate their work at taxpayer’s expense.”
Just hours after the Davidson County Election Commission voted Tuesday not to use electronic poll books for voting in November, Metro Council members voted to hold off on paying for the machines, reports The Tennessean. The poll books, which replaced paper poll books recently in 60 of the county’s 160 voting precincts, have been at the center of criticism in the past week because some voters received the wrong ballots during the Aug. 2 primary.
The commission had planned to use the new poll books in all 160 precincts for the Nov. 6 general election. But four of the five commission members voted Tuesday to revert back to the paper poll books for all precincts.
The electronic poll books will be used only for poll workers to look up voter lists. Funding for those additional poll books — about $400,000 — was part of an appropriations bill that was before the Metro Council Tuesday evening. Last week, Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry called for the city to hold off on approving that money pending an audit of the election processes.
The council voted to approve her amendment and take up the issue of whether to fund the purchase of the equipment at a later date.
“I think it’s our responsibility to have the election commission come before us with all the uncertainty,” said Councilman Lonnell Matthews.
The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday rejected a bill by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, that would have prohibited delivery of free newspapers to people who don’t want them.
Only two senators voted for the bill (SB2670) while seven voted against it.
Campfield told the committee that throwaway newspapers create unnecessary litter and are “a crime hazard” because an accumulation of papers in a yard can tip off burglars that homeowner is away on vacation.
Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association, told the committee there are questions about the constitutionality of the bill, though Campfield contended changes made from the original version make the measure valid.
Gibson also said the measure would put a “new burden on newspapers” as they would go to “extra lengths to avoid even an inadvertent violation.” The measure would basically double the cost of newspaper distribution, Gibson said, and could mean the end of some free publications.
Some committee members also questioned Campfield’s proposal, including Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, who said free newspapers are a major source of information in her district. She mentioned the Mount Juliet News in her hometown.
“Is that the one you in an investor in?” asked Campfield.
“I’m not an investor in any newspaper,” replied Beavers.
Beavers has filed a lawsuit, recently receiving media attention, in which she seeks repayment of $50,000 that the senator characterizes as a loan to the publisher of the Macon County Chronicle. The publisher, in responding to the lawsuit, has characterized the $50,000 as an investment in the newspaper and, as such, not subject to the repayment demand since the money was at risk.
Campfield said later that his question to Beavers, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, was inappropriate and that he had apologized to her.