Despite Opposition From Cities, Haslam Says There'd Be Little Point In Vetoing Gun Bill

May 24, 2017

A measure that would make it easier for gun owners and groups like the National Rifle Association to sue cities over gun bans appears to be on its way to becoming Tennessee law.

Governor Bill Haslam says he's still reviewing the legislation, but his recent comments suggest he has no intention of using a veto on it.

The proposal is complicated, but its basic idea is that it gives lawyers the ability to take gun bans to court. And if a judge rules in their favor, they'd get collect from the city three times what they spent on the case.

Tennessee's big cities have been against that, and they've hoped that Haslam — Knoxville's mayor before he became governor — would take their side. But Haslam says there's not much point in standing in the way of a measure that passed the state legislature overwhelmingly.

"You can veto it, but if something passes two-to-one, you're probably wasting your breath," Haslam says. "So you're better off to try to work on the front end to try to get the bill in as good a shape as it can be."

In Tennessee, lawmakers can override a governor's veto with a simple majority.

The measure, House Bill 508, did evolve some during the legislative session. Opponents noted it originally would have applied to a wide variety of government buildings — including libraries and Head Start programs. Those were excluded in the final version, but some important facilities, like the Music City Central bus terminal, are still included.

Haslam says he plans to make a final decision on the legislation this week