Friday, March 16, 2007

Norris Faces Off with Governor on Self Defense Bill

Bredesen Expresses Opposition on Right to Bear Arms during Declared Emergencies

NASHVILLE --- The Bredesen Administration expressed opposition to Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris' legislation limiting the Governor's power to confiscate firearms and restrict the sale of ammunition during declared emergencies.

Senate Bill 1597 would prohibit the Governor from confiscating weapons from law-abiding citizens or restricting the ability to purchase guns and ammunition during times of natural disaster or declared emergency. Most of the public is unaware that the Governor currently holds this statutory seizure authority.

Norris said he received a letter from Mary Freeman, the Governor's Director of Legislation, requesting he "consider halting further action" on Senate Bill 1597. The letter states they "disagree with the intent of this legislation and therefore cannot support it."

"There is a feeling of déjà vu here," Norris said. "I expect passage of the measure again in the Senate, but I remain confused as to why the Administration feels threatened. The letter's tone infers it again faces an uphill battle in the House."

The measure passed the Senate last year but failed in the House.

Norris said he simply wants to protect Tennesseans' basic constitutional rights.

"The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is never more precious than during natural disasters or declared emergencies when self defense can be the key to survival," Norris said. "The Hurricane Katrina disaster was a wake-up call that this could happen."

In New Orleans, governmental confiscation of citizens' arms sparked outrage in the aftermath of Katrina. A federal judge later enjoined the City of New Orleans from violating Second Amendment rights after the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed suit.

"New Orleans citizens in lawful possession of weapons to protect their homes and families were forced to surrender those arms," Norris said. "We do not want a repeat of that scenario in Tennessee. The ability to defend one's home place and family in the absence of adequate law enforcement is essential."


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