NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Tennessee lawmakers go back into session in January they will debate the controversial proposal to allow gun permit holders to store weapons in their cars when they go to work.
Both sides of the issue have been gearing up for a fight.
If you're licensed to carry - why shouldn't you be allowed to drive to work, and leave the weapon in your car? That simple premise was the basis of a bill backed by the National Rifle Association that never made it to the House or Senate floor.
It was a stunning defeat for the gun lobby, which typically relied on Republican support.
"That particular bill applied to all property, and it did not give a property owner the right to decide what happens on his property," said State Rep. Debra Maggart, who represents District 45.
Because the bill created a tug of war between property rights and gun rights, republican leadership decided to hold off on the issue until next year.
Maggart said she paid the price. She lost in the August primary to an NRA backed opponent. The NRA claimed Maggart worked behind the scenes to kill the bill.
"This is about an organization having to make sure that people write a dues check to them and so they have to create a controversy. I am not the only person they have done this to," said Maggart.
The stage is set for next year's fight in the General Assembly over the so-called "guns in parking lots" bill.
Democrats have said they will stick to their position.
"The people that don't want guns in their parking lots should have the ability to keep guns out – just like they should have the ability to keep guns out of their bar or out of their restaurant where they serve liquor," said State Rep. Sherry Jones.
Republicans will have a super-majority in the House, but may not agree among themselves on how to proceed.
"I know that some members of the General Assembly are upset at the way the gun lobby tried to use fear and intimidation to get their way, some members of the general assembly are frightened by what they did to me," said Maggart.
Leaders in the Tennessee Senate and House have been hoping for what they call a reasonable solution to this issue.
Some republican leaders said they tried to work out a compromise in the last session but the gun lobby did not want to budge.
Business groups have also argued gun rights groups were violating their property rights.
Meantime the NRA has said they were just working to protect gun rights, and that gun owners are not "second-class citizens" who should be allowed to protect themselves.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 7:14 PM EDT2013-05-21 23:14:27 GMT
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