Hours before a historic gun vote, state House Democrats made a last-minute effort to change the Guns in Parking Lots bill.
House Democrat leader Craig Fitzhugh presented seven amendments Wednesday.
"This bill has been moving quite quickly," Fitzhugh said, "and we have a good many amendments that we're going to ask to be put on the bill. So we're just talking about them in advance."
One amendment would rewrite the bill to allow guns anywhere in the state, unless otherwise posted, which means property owners could ban guns on private property.
Other proposed changes would allow for the exemption of daycares, schools, prisons, jails and hospitals, among other specified areas.
"I think this got a little broader than a lot of people realize because it does include all of these places that common sense would say, 'Look, this isn't the best place to have a firearm,'" Fitzhugh added.
For nearly five years, state lawmakers have weighed the rights of gun owners against the rights of property owners.
Proposed legislation has been nicknamed Guns in Trunks, Guns in Cars and Guns in Parking Lots.
No matter what you call it, the latest bill could soon be called a done deal in the state legislature.
The current bill before lawmakers (SB 0142 / HB 0118) allows handgun carry permit holders to carry and store weapons in their vehicles in any public or private parking area.
There are currently no exemptions written into the bill.
During a Senate debate last month, Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) asked, "If you start exempting here and exempting here, it becomes somewhat of a slippery slope. And where do you stop?"
The bill was introduced on January 28, early in the 2013 legislative session.
Two weeks later, the Senate approved the proposal with an overwhelming majority of 28-5.
"We believe that this is not the way to start a session," Fitzhugh said of House Democrats.
"We still have high unemployment. We have this healthcare decision about expansion of health care. We have education system changes that are coming left and right. And yet this is the first bill that the majority party has put on the floor," he added.
The amendments and the full bill will be considered by House representatives on Thursday.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 12:07 PM EDT2013-05-22 16:07:37 GMT
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