Rep. Carr skipped guns-in-trunks vote in favor of Franklin fundraiser

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5:03pm
2012 Rep Joe Carr main.jpg
Rep. Joe Carr

In the middle of the debate over the hotly contested guns-in-trunks legislation, Rep. Joe Carr was heading to a Franklin fundraiser to boost his congressional campaign.

Shortly before the final vote on the bill, Carr was excused for the day and left for a gathering at a country club of what he calls “close personal friends” supporting his bid for Congress.

“I made a calculated decision based on the votes that were necessary for passage,” Carr told The City Paper about his decision to leave before casting his vote on the controversial bill. “I don’t think it was an unreasonable choice that I made. Not unreasonable at all.”

He missed more than half the votes — including the final vote — on the guns-in-trunks bill that makes it legal for handgun carry permit holders to store their gun in their locked car in parking lots, including those of their employer.

The legislation was an outgrowth of last year’s messy fight between Republicans and gun rights advocates. When the GOP-controlled legislature decided to pass on similar legislation last year, the gun lobby funneled more than $100,000 into a key primary race and took out a top member of Republican membership, then hinted they would challenge more lawmakers in future primaries.

“I did not cast a vote on the final bill because I was not present, because I had left the chamber as a result of this prior commitment,” he said, adding he was confident the legislation would pass without him. “I think I made the right decision.”

Carr would not confirm the event for him on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin that morning was a fundraiser or how much money he raised. He said the gathering was “organized by some people who are asking me to take part in a 4th Congressional race.”

A source that wished not to be identified indicated the event was a political fundraiser for Carr’s congressional prospects.

Carr’s vote was missing on more than a half dozen amendments on the legislation ranging from protecting employees from being fired for storing their gun on company parking lots to banning weapons from lots outside schools, prisons, mental health facilities and unemployment offices. He said he was torn on some of those amendments.

Carr, a Lascassas Republican, is hoping to succeed GOP Congressman Scott DesJarlias in the 2014 election. Carr is in a crowded field eyeing that 4th Congressional District seat. State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), and Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) are also preparing bids in the race.

The House ultimately approved the measure 72-22 almost three weeks after the Senate OK’d it on a 28-5 vote. Gov. Bill Haslam, who was uncertain about the bill, has said he is likely to sign the legislation into law. He has until the end of next week to take action on the bill.

Carr, a Second Amendment advocate, is pitching his own gun legislation next week. His bill attempts to restrict enforcement of newly enacted federal restrictions on firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition in the wake of the national debate about gun control.

13 Comments on this post:

By: courier37027 on 3/8/13 at 5:01

Had this been a Demcrat his absence would have been applauded for saving energy, reducing carbon footprint, etc. Enough votes were in the bag for this bill. Carr's vote would have had zero effect on passage or failure.

By: pswindle on 3/9/13 at 9:23

What a coward!

By: ancienthighway on 3/9/13 at 4:37

I wonder if Carr's not voting will have an effect on his campaigning.

By: verticalrefuge on 3/9/13 at 5:21

Let's get real folks. The election is 1-1/2 years away and no one will remember a throwaway story about a guy who missed a vote that passed by 50 votes. It's a drive by hit piece planted by the Tracy or Desjarlais campaign. Apparently, some campaign is scared to death Carr gets in this race. A quick look at, and you can see Tracy missed 3x more votes (69) than Carr did in '09 (last yr on record). In 2010, Tracy missed a slew of votes while campaigning for Congress. Legislators have to miss votes sometimes. It's just a reality. Nobody seriously thinks Carr is dodging this vote. The guy is as pro-2nd amendment as they come. A serious journalist would have done some basic homework and included the missed Tracy votes in the story.

By: cbrentboles on 3/10/13 at 6:57

With all due respect, this story is an attempt to discredit a man who has worked extremely hard to protect our Second Amendment rights. I know of no one who has worked harder than Representative Joe Carr to protect the rights of the states as outlined in the Tenth Amendment. He has even founded the Tenth Amendment Caucus, and when he is elected to represent the Fourth District in Congress, he would like to establish a similar caucus there with other likeminded representatives who recognize that one of the driving forces at work in the construction of our Constitution was the protection of the individual states from the federal government. A limited federal government was one of the Founder's goals.

Representative Carr would never have left the floor if that vote had been in danger. He knew it would pass-and indeed in did-- 72-22. The vote was delayed by a typical sort of tactic--it should have been voted on much earlier in the morning but the Democrats in the House tried to add a number of amendments onto the legislation. Joe knew the bill would easily pass, and he had given his word that he would attend the event at lunch on that day. It was an event that he did not plan, but to which he was invited--and he is a man of his word. He knew that a substantial number of people had made plans to be there and Joe chose to honor their expectations and keep his word. He knew the bill would pass. Sounds like an effective legislator to me--and God knows we certainly need more men and women like him in Washington.

C. Brent Boles

By: CoyoteCrawford on 3/11/13 at 7:34

We have too many right-wing fringe Republican politicians. We need to move to the middle by elecing more Democrats.

By: GUARDIAN on 3/11/13 at 12:16

What a non-story... if he had been a demorat/communist nothing would of been said here in this socialist rag... get a life ... love GOD and Country while protecting your family and move right... there is no longer a middle it's either wrong or right... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Jughead on 3/11/13 at 12:55

His vote meant nothing..the bill was going to pass with or without him.

By: ancienthighway on 3/11/13 at 9:40

Well, if everyone took that approach, "my vote means nothing", and skipped out, nothing would get done. Wait, are they really doing something meaningful?

By: Kosh III on 3/12/13 at 6:23

I thought fund-raising was forbidden while in Session?
But the GOP feels it's above the law anyway. Welcome to the Corporate States of America aka fascism.

By: courier37027 on 3/12/13 at 9:52

At 72-22 that means 94 votes were cast. Therefore five did not vote. Carr is republican. Who were the other four? If any of those four is a democrat, let's see the same condemnations. (Crickets chirping)

By: courier37027 on 3/12/13 at 10:08

I'll go out on a limb. If any/all four absent ballots were democrats, I would bet their non-vote will be hailed as conscience awareness.

By: jambenp on 3/12/13 at 10:48

I hear all this chirping about whether Carr's vote counted and which party he is a member of.....blahblahblah.....

To me the question is more about character. Legislators know the bodies meeting schedule weeks in advance, they are elected to show up and do a job. If you made a decision that your presence at work didn't make a difference and spent the afternoon out interviewing for the next position of power you desired, how would your employer react. Good chance you would be fired because your being your action is saying my presence in this position makes no difference, you are admitting your ineffective in the job you have.

We know politics is not the simple but my point is, until we begin to elect people of character who demonstrate respect for the responsibility they have asked for and been given by the citizens, this country is going to continue in the direction it has in recent decades. It sounds like most of the voices above, left and right, believe that is deteriorating.

Ask yourself, do you want to send more of the same to Washington DC?