It was a reversal for the gun lobby, which has been successful this year in winning approval of several bills to expand the places where permit holders are legally allowed to carry their sidearms, including parks and places where alcohol is served. The bill had passed the House 83-12 in May.
Although the bill is technically not dead, the legislature is struggling to adjourn its 2009 session today and Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, said it will take a two-thirds vote of the 33-member Senate to resurrect it. Although it received a favorable 14-13 vote, it takes 17 votes, a majority, to pass legislation.
The bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said that although it could potentially be resurrected before lawmakers go home for the year, it would be heavily amended.
“It’s possible, but I am bothered by the fact that there are apparently political campaigns and candidates that want to use the database for their purposes. I find that as offensive as data mining for gun control purposes,” Norris said after the vote.
“There is some incentive to get those records closed to a reasonable degree. The senators in the chamber (Wednesday night) were split on what they thought was reasonable and a number of them obviously took a walk. I presented it as the Senate sponsor and did the best I could.”
Gun-carry licensees mounted a huge effort this year to close the records that have been open since the state created handgun-carry permits 12 years ago. The push came after The Commercial Appeal posted a searchable database of permit holders on its Web site last November.
Opponents of the bill — led by Kyle, Sens. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, and Douglas Henry, D-Nashville — sought a compromise and argued that closing public records would set a bad precedent. Read more