NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A measure to close access to the names of people holding
state permits to carry loaded handguns failed last night in the state Senate.
Opponents called the vote a victory for open government.
The proposal sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of
Collierville was defeated 14-13 in the Senate when it failed to get a majority
vote. Norris didn't say whether he would try to revive the proposal, H.B.
0959, which passed the House 83-12 last month.
"This is not a gun bill, it's an open-records bill," said Senate Minority
Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "This is about your open records and your open
government. It has nothing to do with guns."
Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes of Goodlettsville said "it's unfair to the people
in Tennessee to close these records. It's the wrong thing to do."
Sen. Roy Herron proposed a compromise amendment, but it too failed. His
measure would have closed the database and stopped any postings on the Internet,
but it still would have allowed some inspection of records. "I want the media,
or anyone who will, to check the records," said the Dresden Democrat. "That's
just the way it should be."
Norris' proposal would have allowed some exceptions, such as opening records
in the case of a criminal investigation or if an individual's permit had been
Frank Gibson, who runs the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the
bill's defeat was a "victory for people who want open government."
"There were more reasons given on the Senate floor tonight for why the
records should remain open than there were reasons for closing it," Gibson
State Safety Department records show nearly 1,200 people have lost their
permits since 2005. Revocations are issued for felony convictions, while permits
can be suspended for pending criminal charges or for court orders of