Gun people donít like being told what to do.
Correction on that. They donít necessarily mind being told what to do by people they respect so long as the effort isnít by force of law. For example, the best names in the gun community can tell people to lock up their vehicle guns and no one really bats an eye. After all, even if itís issued as a command, itís still just a piece of advice that people can dismiss if it doesnít fit their needs.
Yet when a lawmaker creates a bill mandating that very thing, well,†itís not a good thing.
State Rep. Mark White is searching for a remedy to calm Republicansí nerves over his legislation requiring weapons to be secured when kept in vehicles.
White, an East Memphis Republican, put House Bill 801 on hold in April this year because of consternation it would make criminals out of law-abiding Tennesseans who have guns stolen from their cars.
The measure would have created a Class A misdemeanor for leaving a firearm or ammunition unattended or with a person under 18 in a car or boat, if the gun is not locked within a trunk, glove box or interior of the car of boat. Violations would have been punishable by a $500 fine.
White previously voted for a bill that would allow people to store firearms in the truck of their vehicle, even if they didnít have a permit. Now, heís arguing that his efforts then and now arenít at odds with one another.
ďI voted for that and I think itís a good bill,Ē White said. ďBut that doesnít release me from the responsibility as a responsible citizen that when I get out of my car at night, either take (the weapon) in the house or secure it in some type of a lock box where it cannot be stolen out of my car. Thatís just common sense.Ē
White said he plans to put the bill back on notice in 2020 but acknowledged he will have ďwork with the majorityĒ to see how the language can be structured. He is considering amending the bill to create a fine for people who fail to report gun thefts from their cars in cases where those weapons are used in a crime. Reporting the matter to police could exempt them from a fine, he said.
ďIt wouldnít be a criminal offense, but it would be a monetary fine if you donít secure your gun,Ē White said.
Honestly, it doesnít matter if itís a criminal offense or not. Itís still a case of the law dictating what people†have†to do, and thatís the issue.
Look, I think people shouldnít leave unsecured firearms in their vehicles overnight. Too many get stolen for me to be comfortable with people doing that and Iím not going to pretend otherwise.
However, my comfort isnít someone elseís responsibility.
Besides, not every weapon left in a car overnight was left out of malice or indifference. People get distracted and people have things come up that gets in the way of their plans.
For example, someone brings in the groceries, but the phone rings before they can get their firearm out of the car. They answer the phone and itís someone who wants to talk and they canít get out of the conversation without being rude, then their child falls down a couple of steps and is hurt. Nothing serious, but that distracts them even further. Next, itís time to cook dinner. On and on the hectic afternoon continues and you still havenít made it out to retrieve your firearm and itís almost bed time.
I get it.
Yet Whiteís bill would punish you for having life happen to you, and thatís a huge problem for me. Frankly, I hope the bill dies in committee and is never heard from again.
Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger and lifetime shooter. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia.†https://bearingarms.com/author/tomknighton/