Friday, February 14, 2014

Note from a “Political Subdivision”: a Follow-Up

The state Senate votes to strip local jurisdictions of the right to control weapons in their parks.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Last month, during the first organizational week of the 2014 session of the Tennessee General Assembly,the powerful Speaker of the state Senate, Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville), who doubles as the state’s Lieutenant Governor, candidly addressed several issues about to be taken up by the legislature.

One of those was that perennial issue these days, guns. Or, more specifically, how to further liberalize their use.

From a “Political Beat” entry of January 20, entitled “Haslam, Ramsey State Positions on Meth, Medicaid, Vouchers, Guns, and More”:

The Senate speaker said he would vote for revision of a 2009 gun bill so as to remove provisions of that bill allowing local jurisdictions the option to ban guns in parks. “Local jurisdictions are a political subdivision of the state,” Ramsey said. “When it comes to something like the Second Amendment,” he would be in favor of a “blanket statewide law.”

The state Senate has wasted little time in speeding on SB1496 by (ready for it?) — state Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville). On Thursday, Campfield’s bill was approved by a virtual party-line vote of 26-7, and the bill, as HB1407, is now ready for action by the state House. The key provision of the bill, which modifies a 2009 measure allowing gun-permit holders to carry their weapons into parks, is summed up in these words from the official bill abstract, “… deletes provisions allowing local governments to prohibit carrying in parks by resolution or ordinance. “

Maybe the bill will receive some amelioration in the House .Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) has indicated that she anticipates “some amendments,” but no major change is guaranteed.

A moment of silent meditation, if you will, for those local jurisdictions whose ability to control their own destiny on this matter, or even to influence it, is now in jeopardy. As was noted on Friday morning by one twitterer (okay, by me): “Poor Germantown! (No irony meant, sincere commiseration.) Made unable to control its schools and unable to keep guns out of its parks!”

Worth a second look is a recent comment from the Flyer’s editorial page, “Federal, State, Local,” regarding what seems to be an irreversible trend toward state government’s persist overriding of local authority.

That editorial concludes thusly:

Whatever happened to the idea that government is best when it is closest to the people? How is it that the party of "small government" is more interested in keeping power at the state level than allowing its cities and counties the right to exercise it?

The fact is, government in Tennessee could stand a little decentralizing, too.

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