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VOL. 36 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 16, 2012




Sponsor of guns in parking lots bill to amend it

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NASHVILLE (AP) - The Republican sponsor of a proposal that would let workers store firearms in vehicles parked on their employers' lots said Tuesday that he has listened to GOP leaders and plans to amend the legislation so that it's not so broad.

Sen. Mike Faulk of Kingsport decided to delay the measure a week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in a House subcommittee.

Currently, the measure would apply to any legally owned firearm regardless of whether the owner had a state-issued handgun carry permit. It also would apply to any private or public parking lot, meaning guns could be stored at schools or colleges.

Representatives from the state attorney general's office told the panel on Tuesday that the current proposal is "constitutionally defensible."

Faulk said the new proposal will apply only to people with handgun carry permits and also will contain exceptions suggested by Republican Gov . Bill Haslam and the GOP legislative leadership.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville has said he wants the measure to apply only to permit holders, and he and fellow Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville have called for incorporating several exceptions included in a 2008 Georgia law, such as secure parking areas and visitors' parking spots. Georgia also allows employers to ban workers from bringing weapons onto company property if they have been subject to disciplinary action.

Haslam has said the current measure is "a little too broad."

"The amendments will address the concerns about it being too broad that have been expressed by both speakers and the governor," Faulk told reporters after the meeting Tuesday night. "And then I believe we'll be off and running."

The business and law enforcement groups fear the current bill would infringe on property rights and endanger safety. A number of them have come to the Capitol to speak out aga inst the legislation.

Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association is pressuring Republican lawmakers to abandon limits on the bill.

Faulk said he's still trying to decide actually what exceptions to carve out.

"The issue there is in what instance are the ... customers of the business so vulnerable and so sensitive that you're willing to deprive that business' employees the right to defend themselves," he said. "And that's hard to articulate."

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