"April 9, 2008
Tennessee's latest gun bills were a perversion of our right to bear arms
By HOUSE SPEAKER JIMMY NAIFEH
"In a healthy nation, there is a kind of dramatic balance between the will of the people and the government, which prevents its degeneration into tyranny." — Albert Einstein
As many of you may or may not know, the speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives has the right to cast a vote in any committee or subcommittee meeting. In my nearly 20 years as speaker, I have made it a point to use this privilege sparingly and save it for times when I feel such intervention is needed.
This year, the House of Representatives has been faced with a number of bills dealing with the topic of guns. As a gun owner myself and someone who supports the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the issue of gun ownership is a personal one. While I have and will continue to defend Tennesseans' right to bear arms, I also recognize that with that right comes the need for responsibility. That need for responsibility led me to cast my vote against these bills.
There are some who have said these votes were "anti-gun" votes, trying to paint me and those who support my efforts as anti-Second Amendment. That could not be further from the truth. In addition to owning 16 different firearms, a few weeks ago I became one of more than 190,000 to earn a concealed-weapons permit.
The aim of these bills was not to protect or defend the Second Amendment of this country, but rather an attempt by an extreme few to pervert our right to bear arms into a law that only recognizes a select few. Allowing people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants does nothing to improve safety but rather opens the door to much larger problems. Restricting and criminalizing access to the more than 190,000 concealed-weapons permit holders records does nothing for the protection of Tennessee's 6.5 million residents. And so I voted these bills down.
The Jackson Sun editorial board praised my actions, not once but twice, saying "there's no doubt that Naifeh made the right decision in helping defeat these bills, not just because his constituents were opposed to them, but because killing the legislation will help keep Tennesseans safe."
Most gun owners who I have talked to understand why this legislation was not acceptable, and recognize that here in Tennessee we have it pretty good. They, along with most Tennesseans, realize that the balance between those who own firearms and those who do not must be respected. But you cannot please everyone all the time, and so there are a couple of radicals out there claiming an anti-gun agenda ruled the day.
I've said it before, I'll say it again and will continue to say it: As long as I am speaker, we will never have to worry about our Second Amendment right being infringed upon."