As discussed in an earlier article, knee-jerk legislation season is upon us. Fortunately in Tennessee, we knee-jerk right.
The 108th Tennessee General Assembly will convene on January 8, 2013. In the TN Senate, there are 26 Republicans and 7 Democrats (The TN House is 70/28/1). One of the newest members to the Senate ranks is straight talker and longtime, staunch rural advocate Rep. Frank Niceley. Niceley, a farmer by trade and education (UTK, BS Soil Science), intends to introduce a bill that could expand the number of School Resource Officers (SRO’s) in the state and/or empower local governments to train qualified teachers and administrators.
Although the final legislation hasn’t been introduced yet, Niceley’s legislative solution to “how do we protect our children at school” upped the ante on the speculation and discussion around the issue of gun control and gun empowerment in Tennessee. What is most surprising is the mixed bag of people you see on either side of the fence. Almost across the board, there is also a divide between rural and suburban/urban solutions. What your mountain people see as a solution is far removed from what a soccer mom in a minivan would see as a solution. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to this problem if you are a small government conservative.
The Tennessee legislature will be in session for 5-6 months having this very same discussion in both the committee rooms and the hallways of the legislative plaza. Somebody will pass something into law this session that addresses “how do we protect our children at school”, it is inevitable. The true question is “how” and “when”. Any law that has passed thru the process, will have, in theory, a timeline and action plan if it is truly worth anything (and not to burst your bubble, but there are plenty of laws that aren’t worth anything even after winning the struggle of getting it passed in the first place).
As a citizen, you have to decide what is best for your community. The time to find out is now. Get on the agenda for your January school board meeting, ask for the discussion to happen, be involved, and then let your state senator and your state representative know the results. They will be your conduit to the state committee hearings and the solutions crafted. Keep in mind, the solutions may or may not include state or federal money. Plan accordingly.
And speaking of federally, although Tennessee is firmly in the conservative category, we still have to worry about what the federal legislature will pass into law. Thankfully, we can probably count on their current dysfunctional relationship to stop any radical anti-states rights gun legislation. The only real concern will be Executive Order or the federal agencies introducing anti-states rights, overreaching gun regulations. Crazier things have happened if history is our teacher.
This writer is planning accordingly.