Jeff Woods at the Nashville Scene's "Pith in the Wind" blog reports on a troubling exchange between GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam and a gun rights advocate at a meeting of the Tennessee Firearms Association. At least, it's troubling to me. The bottom line: Haslam promised that if a bill came before him that allowed people to carry guns anywhere they want in Tennessee without a permit, he'd sign it. Here's the relevant exchange, as quoted by the
Leonard Embody ... opens the questioning on the audio tape of last night’s meeting. He succinctly states the gun nut philosophy on the matter of state permits.
“I don’t need a permit to go to church. I don’t need a permit to walk down the street. I don’t need a permit to talk. Do I need a permit to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee? And if I don’t, are you going to support legislation that’s going to change the way the permit system is in this state so that citizens have the right to bear arms and they don’t have to beg the state for a permit?”
After Haslam expresses some resistance, Embody and his buddies pounce:
Q: Really, is it a privilege or a right?
Haslam: I think it’s a right. But here’s the reality. I’m a mayor, governor. We have to live in the real world.
Q: In your opinion, does pragmatism always trump the Constitution?
Haslam: No it doesn’t at all.
Q: What other parts of the Constitution do you want to do away with? The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution. What other parts of the Constitution do you want to throw away for practicality? Just because it’s inconvenient.
Haslam: No, no, I’m just saying …
Q: Just because you don’t like it yourself.
Haslam: No, that’s not it at all. That’s not what you heard me say at all. I’m just saying, what could really get passed in the legislature ...
Is there any real doubt that the GOP loons who run the state legislature will pass such a bill? What kind of intellect must Haslam possess to fold in the face of such a ludicrous argument? A gun permit doesn't infringe on anyone's right to bear arms anymore than a driver's infringes on a person's right to drive a car. The Second Amendment says a "well-regulated" militia is necessary to the security of a free state. What is a gun permit if not a "regulation."
Politics and public opinion are pendulum-like and usually self-correcting. Right now, the pendulum has swung way right — and way wrong. Republicans will live to regret allowing regressive neanderthals to hijack the party. And Bill Haslam has no balls. For the record.