East TN lawmakers aim to protect gun rights with new bills

11:33 PM, Jan 21, 2013   |    comments
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Lawmakers in Nashville are considering at least five proposals to take on possible gun control measures from Washington.

As the president pledged once again to fight gun violence Monday, Knoxville lawmakers disagreed about how the state should respond.

State Senator Frank Niceley wrote two gun bills, including a plan to fight any tighter gun rules at the federal level by President Obama.

"The president's initiatives are not about making people safe. It's about control," Senator Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) said. "The federal government has been going down this road for a long time trying to get our guns. I've seen it chipping away, slowly chipping away and it's time the states stand up and say 'no.'"

In response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, the president proposed legislation and executive orders, including reviving a ban on assault-style weapons like the one used in Newtown.

Senator Niceley's bill, SB 40 and companion bill House 10, says if that happens his plan to beat it is to not fund enforcement at the state level.

"We wanted to just quietly send him a message, we're not going to spend any of our money enforcing any of your gun bills passed after 2013," said Sen. Niceley.

Senator Niceley did offer a plan to add safety in schools. He proposes putting an armed officer in every school and that could include training existing faculty and staff to carry weapons.

"It's time to put security in all of our schools," said Sen. Nicely.

See a list of all proposed bills here.

State Senator Stacey Campfield has proposed a similar bill, SB 76, that would allow trained faculty to carry a firearm. He also wants to limit public access to gun registers and record (SB 77).

Two Middle Tennessee lawmakers want to allow judges to carry a gun in court (HB 28 and SB 22).

"It's hard for me to even talk about those [bills]. They are so ridiculous to me," said State Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville).

Johnson doesn't think any of the gun bills have merit.

"I think a lot of this talk is just rattling folks up and we don't know what's out there yet; why are we spending time at the state level combating laws that haven't been written yet?" she said.

Representative Johnson says the state legislature should focus on creating jobs and wait until the president or Congress acts before the state takes action.

All of the bills are only at the introductory stage. They have to make it through committee and both houses before they become law.

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