Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Gun Bill: "All About Me" Politics At Its Worst

Apparently, Tennessee Rep. Curry Todd took too many hard fouls to the head during his glory days as a hardwood phenom.

We’re not sure what excuse Sen. Paul Stanley has, unless it’s been hit too many times over the head with the Bible or by former Stanford Financial investors.

Either way, these Republican state legislators have become the poster boys for what’s wrong with our political system: it’s all about them.

Firing Blanks

Just think about it.

They led passage of a bill so gun owners can carry heat into restaurants. But that’s not what makes in so unbelievable.

They did it in the face of the opposition of the people who have to enforce it – the state sheriffs and police chiefs – and in the face of the opposition from the people who know their industry best – the restaurateurs association.

Their resolve in the face of overwhelming logic is testament to the phenomenon that invades government too much these days.

It’s all about winning and losing.

It’s all about political pandering.

It’s all about the objective that trumps public safety and sound public policy – getting elected.

One Word: Stupid

Aided and abetted by the National Rifle Association, our state legislators have thumbed their noses at the cautionary warnings by law enforcement and by businesspeople – supposedly the core of the Republican base.

It defies belief. Even my beloved cousin – a rural farmer, conservative, proud gun owner and NRA member – summed it up eloquently: “Stupid. Just plain stupid.”

But nothing like common sense is going to deter this kind of political behavior, which becomes so outrageous, it runs the risk of being a parody of itself. It’s like the rest of us keep waiting for the grown-up to show up at recess and bring this childish group to order.

To his credit, Governor Phil Bredesen is trying. He proved to the adult in the room, vetoing the pro-gun bill.

Paid Attention In Philosophy Class

Immediately, Rep. Todd showed the maturity that got us into this in the first place. He put his response in terms of “we’ll show him” and “we’re going to win.” He even said it would be like the "OK Corral" on Capitol Hill.

It’s tempting to put it all under the heading of absurdism and chalk it up to a plot worthy of Camus, but in truth, it’s pure, unadulterated nihilism. It’s taken to such a level that it’s become anomie as morality and social norms break down.

That’s the ironic thing about the blind ambition and personal gratification shown by Rep. Todd and Sen. Stanley. In worshiping at the altar of law and order, they are in fact breaking down law and order in pursuit of an “anything goes” attitude.

But enough of the diagnostics, the truth is that within the political context, their actions represent the devaluation of public service and the greater public good in pursuit of personal benefit. So often, the ones enacting these kinds of laws act as if they look down from Olympus and share their omniscient views with the mere mortals who elected them.


If Rep. Todd and Sen. Stanley believe that it is imperative that we can carry our guns anywhere we like (that seems the substance of their philosophy), then why can’t we carry them into the gallery of the Tennessee Legislature?

Why can’t we carry our guns into Legislative Plaza in Nashville when we meet with these very same legislators?

Why can’t we carry them into the building that houses our sheriff’s office or into the courts in the Shelby County Courthouse?

Why are only public buildings deserving of this extra layer of safety? The rest of us are up for grabs.

Surely, if we are now able, thanks to these enlightened legislators, to pack our firearms into a mere restaurant and a public park, surely we should be able to take them into the public buildings that we, as citizens, in fact own.

The Royal Court

Governor Bredesen stands little chance of winning this shoot-out, but in the end, this burst of political self-gratification will give way to most restaurants banning guns and with wise local governments keeping guns out of public parks.

We can’t blame all this on Rep. Todd and Sen. Stanley. After all, as citizens, we allow for the state capitol to be the equivalent of a medieval court, where minor players gain power by doling out indulgences and approvals. Most of these benefits accrue to lobbyists who treat legislators as if they are invested with wisdom only reserved for the gods.

When legislators tell jokes, every one belly laughs, and when they are angry, every one sympathizes. It is a world built on the massaging of oversized egos and undersized commitments to public service.

Every one should spend a couple of days in Legislative Plaza in Nashville, watching our good old boys soaking up the adulation and false praise. Thankfully, there are some (a precious few) legislators who actually ask: “how will the public benefit” instead of the more common refrain: “how many votes will this get me?”

Change Is Gonna Come

The cadre of conscientious legislators forms a core of hope for change. Just as there are no greater critics of journalism than the journalists themselves, these legislators are deeply critical of the gnawing gap between the founding dream and the present reality of the legislature. As one put it recently, “this place is a definite idealism killer and spirit-sapping.”

We’re not saying that at some level, every politician isn’t concerned about getting reelected. What we are saying is that too often today, from the U.S. Congress to the Tennessee Legislature, there are too many legislators whose only daily mission is to get elected – in granting favors in return for contributions, in passing gratuitous bills to satisfy their base and in being willing to divide us as a people in their own self-interest.

Change can happen, but it begins with us saying that we’ve had enough. It begins with a trip to Nashville. It begins with the knowledge of seeing it firsthand.

The good news is that if you miss your legislators in Legislative Plaza, you can also corner your legislators at local restaurants around the Capitol. Just don’t forget to take your guns.


Mick Wright said...

Tom, I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind posting a comprehensive, itemized list of places where the Second Amendment does and doesn't apply. I'd be most appreciative if you could clear this issue up for us, once and for all. You seem to have absolute certainty about all such matters, so I'm confident this won't be much trouble for you. If you could have it up by noon, that would be great. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Curry Todd has forgotten his career as a Memphis Police Officer, or maybe a scary thought, as one of the few (or perhaps only one) legislators who has actually killed someone with a firearm, does he think more people should have that experience?

packrat said...

Hey Mick, I take it you think the second Amendment should be unrestricted? So why shouldn't I have the right to carry a firearm into court? Or the state capitol building? Or any public building? Or for that matter, why shouldn't I have the right to buy and own a .50 caliber machine gun? Or a rocket launcher? BTW, I own 7 firearms and have been around and used guns since childhood. I just have no problem with society or government having some reasonable limitations on where they can be carried, without that impinging on my general right to keep and bear arms.

Chris C. said...

Mick and packrat:

List of places the Second Amendment doesn't apply in TN can be found by searching TCA 39-17-1315 9b0 (2).


Anonymous said...

"Governor Bredesen stands little chance of winning this shoot-out, but in the end, this burst of political self-gratification will give way to most restaurants banning guns and with wise local governments keeping guns out of public parks."

Our "wise" local government is currently failing at keeping guns out of public parks (and probably restaurants).

Nate Ferguson said...


I can't provide you with a detailed listing of where the 2nd Amendment does and does not apply, but I can assure you that one place in which it does apply is within the context of a state militia, not Chuck E. Cheese's.

b said...

Nice post...Just how expensive is Kevlar? I feel a need to go buy some.

antisocialist said...

The Constitution is the only carry permit I need.

Smart City Consulting said...


We care more here about the First Amendment than the Second around here, and even our rights are controlled by certain laws. Why should the Second Amendment be more sacrosanct?

Zippy the giver said...

In perfect unison, you all turned into as big of nuts as you complain about on both sides of this issue.
It's flippin bizarre!
Chill out, grow up, and make sense already. The antagonistic system has yet to yield any great results.

Big Tom Pancake said...

The only solution to this is an economic one. There needs to be an organized, vocal, and sustained boycott of all the bars and restaurants that allow concealed firearms. This isn't a Second Amendment issue, since well-regulated militias don't hold meetings in bars. This issue is about facilitating murder. The only guns that can be concealed are handguns. The only purpose of handguns is to shoot people. We should no longer be silent to NRA fear mongering. It's time to make the people who support this inane law pay.

Anonymous said...

Its really intresting , article
thanks for the sharing with us

HD Access for just $10 a month to your FAVORITE Channels!