Constituent Questions – Submitted to the Committee by the Safe Tennessee Project

These questions were provided by Tennessee constituents and compiled by The Safe Tennessee Project for submission to our General Assembly.

 

GUNS IN PARKS

(SENATE BILL 1171/ HOUSE BILL 995, SENATE BILL 314/HOUSE BILL 274)

  • If Guns in Parks passes will this impact the insurance premiums for the public parks funded by the tax payers? Who will bear the burden of the increased cost?
  • Mayors, police chiefs, city councils, and citizens have spoken out against being forced to allow guns in their parks. They are not alone. In fact, Speaker Harwell spoke in favor of allowing local governments to make decisions for their own parks last year. Why the reversal of position in such a short period of time?
  • George L. Rooker Jr, the Assessor of Property in Davidson County stated that “Property tax dollars are used by city, county and state governments to provide funding for roads, parks, fire and police protection, public schools and many other local services.” His website, however, does not make mention of the funding source for additional park security. Would our property taxes be increased to pay for staff to assess the permit status of those carrying weapons in our local parks? What system would be implemented to deal with verifying their weapons meet the parameters of the law? Who will bear the burden of this additional cost?

CARRY LIKE A COP

(SENATE BILL 628/ HOUSE BILL 320)

  • In a public place like a hospital or at a concert or sporting event, will there be systems in place to verify someone is a handgun permit holder and not an armed criminal? How will you know the difference? How will you verify the legality of the handgun? Who pays for this system?
  • Have Tennessee hospitals been contacted for their input on firearms in the emergency room? What additional revenue will be needed to provide security to patients and staff and how will that impact the healthcare costs of ordinary Tennesseans?
  • How much in tax revenue will we have to spend to cover the increased insurance premiums for places like Bridgestone Arena, Titans Stadium, Greer Stadium and all of the civic/municipal facilities across the state that will be impacted by the decision to allow weapons inside?
  • How much in tax revenue will we have to spend to cover the increased insurance premiums for places like Bridgestone Arena, Titans Stadium, Greer Stadium and all of the civic/ municipal facilities across the state that will be negatively impacted by the decision to allow weapons inside?
  • Will tax concessions be made to facilities/businesses whose insurance premiums increase to an unmanageable level due to the legislative decision to allow weapons on the premises?
  • How will servers and bartenders know which patrons are carrying concealed weapons in order to refrain from serving them alcohol? Will the business owners be expected to bear the financial burden associated with additional training?
  • Who would be liable if a concealed gun owner is served alcohol and gets into an altercation resulting in gunfire or negligently discharges his or her weapon injuring a bystander? Would the business/server face legal/financial penalties?
  • Does this committee have a tally on how many businesses prohibit guns from their establishments across the state? What is the potential economic impact if these businesses shut their doors and move to a more business friendly state as opposed to complying with additional regulation and requirements for more security and increased insurance premiums?
  • Chuck E. Cheese, AMC Theatres, Toys R Us and Regal Entertainment group are all posted “No Weapons” businesses. What is the demonstrable benefit in allowing weapons on their premises at the objection of the business owner?
  • Carry like a Cop references notifying school principals and normal school hours. It doesn’t specify the type of school covered. Would this extend to college campuses? Is notice required for a college campus and what hours would be considered “normal”? What system will be in place for determining who is a permit holder and who is not a permit holder? What system will be in place for determining the legality of the weapon? Who bears the burden of the cost for implementing this system?
  • According to the Idaho Statesman, the 2014 Guns on Campuses bill cost 5 of Idaho’s colleges and universities a combined $3.7 million dollars in unnecessary expenses. The schools had to add new staff, provide training and purchase equipment to secure the safety of their professors, support staff and students. A Boise State spokesman said “Certainly a piece of it had to do with the gun bill, but we’ve been hearing requests for more campus safety at all levels.” Should similar bills pass in Tennessee allowing weapons on campus, who will bear the financial burden of increased security costs? Tennessee parents are under enough financial strain trying to pay for their children’s education and our universities and colleges should be using those funds to provide our youth with the best education, not provide weapons checks.
  • If Concealed Carry Permit holders will be afforded the same carry privileges as off duty police officers, will the requirements for a Concealed Carry Permit be adjusted to match those of a police officer? Will this include periodic re-certification and mandatory continued education?

GUNS AT WORK

(SENATE BILL 168/HOUSE BILL 202)

  • Several bills considered this session remove the ability of the business owner to make decisions for his/her business and impose new regulations by the state. If this bill passes, a business owner loses the ability to make decisions regarding firearms on the premises for his or her employees. Who will bear the financial burden of increased premiums associated with insurance policies for businesses impacted by this bill? Who would be liable in the event of an employee related shooting such as the incident in February at Houston’s Memory Café where two employees were engaged in an altercation and one opened fire on the other?

NEW SIGNAGE REQUIREMENT

(SENATE BILL 774 / HOUSE BILL 682)

  • In what can only be described as a punitive action against businesses that forbid firearms on their premises, this bill requires signs meet a very specific set of visual requirements. The line must be at a 45 degree angle and from upper left to lower right as opposed to upper right to lower left. The words must be a certain height and specific words and visual representations must be contained within. What is the practical requirement for this change in the law? We assume that those who carry firearms can distinguish a no firearms sign regardless of the angle of the diagonal line or else we wouldn’t trust them to walk our streets with firearms. Who will bear the financial burden associated with new signage for each business?

REMOVING THE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

(SENATE BILL 780/ HOUSE BILL 535)

  • To obtain a concealed carry permit in Tennessee, an individual must attend a four (4) hour class on handgun safety and shoot 55 rounds with 70 percent accuracy during the four (4) hour practical portion of the exam. What is the demonstrable benefit to Tennesseans in removing the minimal training and safety requirements for carrying a weapon in public?

NO BACKGROUND CHECKS ON PERMIT HOLDERS

(SENATE BILL 1239/HOUSE BILL 1112)

  • This bill states that if someone provides a permit to a firearms dealer, they are not subject to a background check to purchase a new weapon. Will there be a system put in place to verify that the permit holder is not purchasing new weapons because they have been forced to surrender their old weapons as a condition of a domestic violence conviction? What methods of verification will be taken to verify that the permit holder has not been arrested for other crimes since obtaining their permit?

OPEN CARRY

(SENATE BILL 784/ HOUSE BILL 684)

  • On the day that the open carry everywhere of handguns was legalized in our neighboring Georgia, two men held each other hostage in a convenience store. Each assumed the other must be up to no good since he was clearly brandishing a weapon. Are there any studies available that demonstrate a measurable benefit for states that have the open carry of handguns as a rule of law?

NULLIFICATION

(SENATE BILL 1110/ HOUSE BILL 1341)

  • As written, this bill appears to be in direct conflict to Article VI of the United States Constitution, commonly referred to as the “Supremacy Clause”. This article states that when a state law is in conflict with a federal law (such as a federal firearms law), the federal law takes priority. Can you explain how refusing to follow and enforce the laws of the United States of America (which were written and enacted by elected officials) is beneficial to constituents?

GUNS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY

(SENATE BILL 070/HOUSE BILL 481, SENATE BILL 149/HOUSE BILL 173)

  • County Commissioner Barb Sturgeon was found with a loaded weapon in her purse at a school board meeting last year. Now there is a bill designed to protect people like Ms. Sturgeon who would like to bring loaded weapons in their purses to school functions. Are there any studies available for parents, educators or other concerned citizens that demonstrate that weapons in schools (and properties used by schools) in the hands of untrained non-police officers prevent crime? The purse that Ms. Sturgeon used was famously featured in the news a few months later as a mother in Idaho was using one to carry her loaded weapon when her toddler managed to get his hand inside and use the weapon to unintentionally shoot her in the head in a Walmart. Can the proponents of this bill provide any assurances that unintentional discharges of this sort would not occur on school property?
  • The legal age to purchase a gun in Tennessee is 18. Has anyone spoken with the school systems to get their take on armed students in the parking lot?

TAX FREE GUNS AND ACCESSORIES

(SENATE BILL 778/ HOUSE BILL 1059)

  • Tennessee is one of many states that participate in a tax-free holiday for back to school items. These items are necessary for everyday life and considering we do not have an income tax and our sales tax is nearly 10%, these expenses add up each year for families with more than one child. This bill proposes the same tax-free status be given to non-necessity items like firearms and ammunition costing Tennessee a great deal of tax revenue. South Carolina enacted a tax free gun weekend, but limited the sales to just firearms; no ammunition or accessories were included. Have any studies been done to assess the revenue shortage Tennessee would experience by completely removing the taxes from all guns and all accessories for two days? Who would bear the financial burden for making up the loss of that revenue? Where is the fiscal note associated with this bill?

EXPLODING TARGETS

(SENATE BILL 874/ HOUSE BILL 934)

  • Tannerite is just one of the explosive materials used to make exploding targets. Indianapolis Metro Police Bomb Squad Commander Ron Humbert says tannerite and explosives like it have no business in the hands of anyone other than trained professionals. The US Forest service says it can ignite forest fires and the FBI warns that it could be used to manufacture IEDs. What demonstrable benefit will the people of Tennessee enjoy by decriminalizing this explosive? What steps would be in place to regulate the purchase, transport and use of this explosive material? Who would bear the cost associated with monitoring this explosive? Who would bear the additional healthcare costs associated with its legalization in Tennessee?

STATE GUN

(SENATE BILL 783/HOUSE BILL 677)

  • The Economic Policy Institute reported that income is higher where the workforce is well educated. With higher incomes, workers have higher expendable income to purchase goods and pay more in state sales tax, thus boosting Tennessee’s revenue. According to a study by the Center for Education Reform, Tennessee currently ranks 28th overall in education. A report by WalletHub states that Tennessee ranked 41st in spending on education. Only 33 percent of our eighth graders are proficient in reading and a paltry 28 are proficient in math. How will the assigning of a state gun improve these numbers?
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