After angering gun enthusiasts by failing to expand Second Amendment rights during this year’s session, state House Republicans formed a special committee Wednesday to recommend action before next year.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, announced the appointment of seven lawmakers to what he named the Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force.
He charged the group with “studying current state laws to identify if any changes may need to be made.” The task force will meet with outside groups to “gain a better understanding” of the issues surrounding the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans, McCormick said.
The seven members are some of the most ardent gun rights proponents in the legislature. The chairman is Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who led last year’s campaign to enact the guns-in-bars law. Also named to the task force is Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, who sponsored failed legislation this year to let University of Tennessee professors go armed on campus.
“This task force will study ways we can protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and will make recommendations to our majority about good public policy we all can support,” McCormick said. “I think this is a worthwhile effort to streamline the process and build consensus within the General Assembly. I look forward to hearing what Chairman Todd and the group report back to us.”
After this year’s session ended in May, the state’s gun lobby was irate and threatening political reprisals against Republican state lawmakers for failing to expand Second Amendment rights in the first year of the party’s large majority in the legislature.
John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, painted Republicans as ingrates and accused them of treating gun proponents as “the unwanted stepchildren” of Tennessee politics.
Harris denounced some Republicans as “spineless.” Likening the legislature to a garden badly in need of weeding, he suggested supporters should recruit challengers for these lawmakers in the 2012 elections. Harris made his remarks in a posting on his organization’s website.