Haslam saddened by Newtown massacre, doesn't see 'big need to change' TN gun laws

Monday, December 17, 2012 at 1:26pm

Gov. Bill Haslam said the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week that left 27 people dead made his stomach turn, but he doesn’t see “a big need to change things” in Tennessee’s gun laws.

The massacre killed mostly children, sparking a national conversation about gun laws and resources for mental health. Haslam said he still expects conversation about a controversial guns-in-parking-lots legislation come next year.

“That’s not the first horrific incident we’ve had in America, and there’s a recent poll in Tennessee that showed most people would be in favor of letting employees keep their weapons locked in cars on business property. So, I don’t know yet how that would change America’s minds,” he told reporters Monday on Capitol Hill.

Gun advocates railed on Republicans last year for blocking legislation that would allow gun owners to commute with their weapons to work and legally stow them in their vehicle in their employer’s parking lot. Lawmakers have promised to revisit this year after gun advocates targeted a high-ranking GOP leader and helped get her voted out of office.

The governor said he thinks addressing mental health issues is more proactive, but declined to say whether he is more inclined to increase the budget for the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services following the murders.

“When people come in with that intent, it’s hard to stop them regardless of what the laws are, and so I think that addressing the mental health issues up front will be key, is key,” he said.

Haslam is now mapping out a state budget plan. He said the agency has already asked for increased funding but declined to say whether the department’s budget will grow this year.

33 Comments on this post:

By: ancienthighway on 12/17/12 at 2:20

I reluctantly have to agree with Haslam. If people are of a mind to commit mass murder, gun laws won't stop them. Addressing mental health issues up front is an interesting concept though. How are the people in need of this help identified? Just yesterday they seemed perfectly normal, then today they shoot up a classroom of children or movie house of people looking for some entertainment and relief from the madness.

Is the solution really to allow more people to legally carry guns every minute of the day? From an individual standpoint, it makes sense. I have a gun and I can defend myself. From a societal standpoint, it's an idea gone wrong though. If I was to see people walking down the street with their sidearms openly displayed, am I looking at a law abiding citizen, or someone about to shoot up the nearest McDonalds? Do I alert the police or not? If I do alert the police, do they respond and face possible harassment charges or respond and stop a tragedy?

While the minds of the gun advocates can never see a scenario where one bad guy shoots his gun and 4 or 5 good guys pull their guns and return fire, are the good guys shooting at a bad guy or a good guy with a gun? Not to mention someone who happens onto the wrong place at the wrong time? How to additional "good citizens" know who the good guys and bad guys are? And most importantly how do the police know?

The answer is not to make more guns assessable to everyone on the street, but to limit those that carry guns outside the home. If only the bad guys have guns, then we know if we should call the police to alert them. The police know to respond and can identify who to culprit is. Any response by vigilante citizens who think they can do better than the police is already too late to save those that died or were wounded in the initial outburst of gunfire.

Despite gun advocate claims that most Americans want to be able to carry guns freely, numerous polls state the majority are in favor of more gun controls, especially in the wake of the mass shootings that have taken place recently.

Keep your guns for your home defense. Keep your guns for your camping trips into the wilderness, if you can find any wilderness. But let's get guns off the streets to help stop tragedies before they happen.

By: dva56 on 12/17/12 at 2:31

I have to wonder how many children and teachers would have died had the gunman had to manually reload his weapon after every five pulls of the trigger rather than shooting 30 rounds in a matter of seconds and then putting in a new 30 round clip and continuing the carnage again and again and again.

By: pswindle on 12/17/12 at 6:59

Governor your comment turns ny stomach. At the very least we can get rid of assult riffles.

By: CrimesDown on 12/17/12 at 7:18

RE: dva56,

Probably no change. Here's the thing. Police don't have 5 round magazines (not clips). The reason is simple, it makes them safer. They might go up against a suspect with several weapons or a situation with several suspects. Why should a citizen not be as safe as an officer? There are crimes every day, by not only one but several bad men or women. Why would you limit a law abiding citizen's ability to protect themselves.

I'm not even going to get into the fact that there might come a day when we will need guns to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. It may not be in the near future, but it is going to happen, if you believe history repeats itself.

Remember...When seconds matter, police are only minutes away.

By: Ask01 on 12/17/12 at 7:38

We all know what will transpire with Governor Haslam.

He will keep his head down while the two ideologies trade blows. When the shelling stops and the smoke clears, he will check the political winds. If there is any controversy he will probably allow any legislation generated by this incident become law without signing or vetoing such so as to maintain plausible deniability with voters.

Pretty wimpy but poltically safe.

By: ancienthighway on 12/17/12 at 9:09

How many of these crimes by bad men and women happen to you. someone you know, or someone you pass in the mall or on the street in a day, week, month, or even year? How many of this number were perpetrated by someone pointing a gun at the victim?
Don't bother quoting news reports and police blotters, I can get that information on the general population myself. I'm more interested in the circle of people that you associate with or have a good possibility of interacting with. If that number is high, then maybe the answer to your need for self protection isn't carrying a gun, but changing your lifestyle so you don't hang out in an environment so rich in criminal activity.
I would rather take my chances trying to dodge a bullet from one shooter than dodging the bullets from several shooters. But I don't have that choice. We do have the choice of limiting the rounds per minute. We do have the choice of limiting access to military grade arms to law abiding citizens, which in turn makes criminals much easier to identify.

By: CrimesDown on 12/17/12 at 9:51

RE: ancienthighway,

I'm a police officer. I know more than most that the police don't prevent much crime, they just report it. Because you asked...I have been approached twice, when I was off duty, by people with guns that intended to rob me. Three people in one incedent ran. They didn't fire a shot and neither did I. We caught them minutes later. One had a sawed off shotgun, one had a 9mm and the other had a .38 revolver. This happened at 5th and Main.The second incedent happened outside a Dollar General store on Haywood Lane. A man approached me with his hand in his pocket, as if he was armed, and demanded my money. I pulled my pistol and he immediately ran and I didn't catch him. A very close friend was a very temporary victim of a car jacking. The suspect jumped in the back of his car and demanded my friend to drive. The suspect was then shot dead with a Colt .45. This happened at the Kangaroo station at Haywood and Apache Trail.

I've seen this for almost thirty years in Nashville. I've been on many scenes where armed suspects were shot dead by people that didn't want to become victims and dead victims, that had no way to protect themselves.

By: CrimesDown on 12/17/12 at 9:54


I noticed after reading my post that I failed to say that I had pulled my pistol so the three thugs could see that I was armed before they ran.

By: CrimesDown on 12/17/12 at 10:09

RE: ancienthighway,

I keep posting because I reread your post. If they never sell a high capacity magazine, how exactly will that prevent a criminal from geting one of the several million that are here now. You know we could prevent people from selling cocaine if we just made it illegal. We could also make people stop driving fast if we just posted speed limits. Oh...cocaine is illegal and we have posted speed limits. Criminals don't care how many laws you pass, they really don't care. As a matter of fact, the more gun laws that you pass the better they like it. Laws will keep law abiding people from doing something but not criminals.

By: ancienthighway on 12/17/12 at 11:54

I know that laws won't stop the criminal from getting a gun. I could drive maybe 4 blocks from my house and find someone willing to sell me a gun right now. Or any number of drugs, or even an iPhone for $15. But if the carrying of guns is restricted, then there's a good chance if you see someone with a gun that you know they are a criminal and can report it to the police. Whether guns are restricted or not, there is no way to predict where a gun will be used with criminal intent. These are the arguments against gun control.

If there was some way to know with 100% certainty that a tragedy caused by no gun control would not occur, I'd fully support no controls. The truth is that people too many times lose control of their actions. Gun control is as much about protecting people from themselves as it is about protecting others.

By: Ask01 on 12/18/12 at 6:01

There is an upside to people carrying weapons in public. Even if a person carrying their personal firearm doesn't scare off a potential attacker, while the criminal is firing at the would be hero, others can escape the carnage.

By: envesta on 12/18/12 at 8:31

If you needed further proof that Governor Milquetoast is a moral coward, this is it. What an embarrassment.

By: RWinLA on 12/18/12 at 8:36

Great leadership governor. Read the polls then decide. I thought elected officials were suppose to lead not govern according to polls. Gutless. Tell us what YOU think for once.

By: Moonglow1 on 12/18/12 at 9:29

Moonglow1: What an ineffective argument-laws won't stop people from committing crimes. Of course you can't stop crime 100 percent, but you can have laws that serve to deter crime.

So according to the NRA, crime cannot be deterred by passing legislation against owning a semi automatic. However if this argument holds water then the same can be said for drunk driving or drugs. So why do we have those laws. Why not let people go wild.

Rugged individualism really means unrestricted capitalism and more profits for gun manufacturers. It's not about the Second Amendment. It's about lobbyists (NRA) and their manufacturer clients.

You don't need a semi automatic to hunt rabbit.

By: ohplease on 12/18/12 at 9:32

Is the current status of unlimited access, unlimited carrying making us safer? Please, Governor Haslam, put yourself in the position of the Connecticut governor. Do you want to be the one to tell parents that their first graders have been killed while in their classrooms? Shame on us for allowing gun violence to be our future. If the victims of these horrific incidents were all people who had made the choice to put their faith in guns -- and to treat their paranoia with assault rifles -- that would be something I could live with. But the majority of people slaughtered have not made guns their solution. How can we not demand that we shift from a violent society to one in which we put some regulation on these weapons?

By: Moonglow1 on 12/18/12 at 9:41

Moonglow1: Governor MilkToast is right. An apt name for the spineless Governor and typical of politicians these days. They are "run" by special interests.

Too bad we got rid of the Italian Mafia. These politicians and their lobbyists are over the top 1,000 times worse than the old time Mafia. The Mafia extorted money, but these politicians steal money outright from taxpayers as do corporations.

What a lousy country the USA has become.

The common man is ignored and his money extorted by the New Mafia, politicians, lobbyists, and corporations.

By: Moonglow1 on 12/18/12 at 9:47

Moonglow1: addendum to above post-The NRA extorts our money under the guise of Second Amendment rights and has increased profits for gun manufacturers. Extortion from the people under the guise of the Constitution. At least the Mafia didn't pretend like the NRA and their bought & paid for politicians.

So Mafia type crime exists but now its legal in the form of politicians and lobbyists. The twist like pretzels selling snake oil to dumb down Americans.

By: GUARDIAN on 12/18/12 at 9:59

Were gun hating freedom loathing liberals born stupid or did you make themselves that way. GOD gave me the right to self defense and NO man shall take it away. Every time there is a mass murder here comes the media stirring the black pot of
gun control or no guns at all. They always toss the evil words of machine gun or assault weapon or automatic weapon. They try to word these as though there was thousands of bullets flying through the air. Everyone doesn't have a full automatic weapon AKA assault weapon nor does the Constitution through the Second Amendment give you that right because of laws passed back in the 1930s. FYI no full autos were used at Sandy Hook or in any of the mass murders in America of the last 75 years. That musket BS is so lame and the highest court in the land said you don't know anything of which you speak. The USA has rate of 2.98 Homicides per 100,000 people. Israel is a armed nation but they use more common sense than we do and they don't have to deal with the liberals we have and their rate is only 1.86. On this side of the globe these countries have total gun control. Check out their murder rate by firearms; Barbados 3.00, Uruguay 3.24, Costa Rica 3.32, Nicaragua 7.14, Paraguay 7.35, Montenegro 8.55, Mexico 10.00, Panama 12.92, Brazil 18.10, Colombia 27.10, Guatemala 38.52, Honduras 46.70, Jamaica 47.44 and El Salvador 50.36. Many of the South America countries won't say nothing and the communist ones kill far to many to tell about. So don't tell me how safe other countries are. Even France is 3.00 so if you don't like it here put murders to death and lock criminals up. GUN CONTROL? On one wants to say this but I will. The government gives guns to drug gangs in Mexico and terrorist in the middle east and they want to take them away from "WE the PEOPLE". You better think twice before you state this because there is a hundred million gun owners like me and least half feel just like I do. Don't come to take mine unless you think you might be one of the lucky survivors who gets to pry them from my dead hands.... Notice I said "lucky" survivor. GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Badbob on 12/18/12 at 10:41

22% of murders are by family and friends. Another 21% are by acquaintances. So 43% of all murders are by people the victim knows. Only 6% are in robberies. Just who is everyone protecting themselves from?

Like Mrs. Lanza, she had no chance to protect herself as she was shot in bed WITH HER OWN GUN. .

Guardian is typical of why gun nuts should have them taken away. He believes God gave him his guns and will no doubt believe it was God who directed him to kill his victim. Just like most crazy people.

By: Badbob on 12/18/12 at 10:46

What our Governor might do is look at what any state other than Louisiana or New Mexico to find out how we might drop lower than having the 3rd highest murder rate in the country.

Hint: Ramsey and the NRA do not have the answers.

By: Moonglow1 on 12/18/12 at 10:54

Moonglow1: Calm down Guardian...
You can have a gun, but do you need a semi automatic?? If so why?

And your stats are wrong...like the number of people incarcerated we have the highest number of killings by guns.

So are we all supposed to carry semi automatics to malls, churches, etc.

What are we so afraid of?

The NRA has you hoodwinked.

It is all about money. Not about freedom!!!

By: joe41 on 12/18/12 at 11:44

Haslam just see the need to bite the hand that supplies his campaign funds. He has been bought and paid for, so we can't count on him to do the right thing in any event. There is no need for anyone to have a semi-automatic gun with hundred of rounds and I haven't seen anyone able to justify it. Unfortunately, we have misinterpreted the Second Amendment for the last hundred years.


By: joe41 on 12/18/12 at 11:44

Haslam just doesn't see the need to bite the hand that supplies his campaign funds. He has been bought and paid for, so we can't count on him to do the right thing in any event. There is no need for anyone to have a semi-automatic gun with hundred of rounds and I haven't seen anyone able to justify it. Unfortunately, we have misinterpreted the Second Amendment for the last hundred years.


By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 12/18/12 at 2:13

Basically, it doesn't matter much how this regime tries to use this horrific event for its own purposes. Most states will refuse to comply with or enforce any statute they hand down anyway
Because state officials have to answer to their constituents unlike the feds.

By: pswindle on 12/18/12 at 4:01

The NRA has made fools out of our citizens, and God help us..

By: Ask01 on 12/18/12 at 8:38

I've tried to be civil and reasonable, agreeing with the pro gun crowd that more laws will not affect criminals who will obtain weapons anyway.

I've tried to urge, in a friendly manner, the firearms enthusiasts to abandon the usual rhetoric and propose some constructive, middle of the road options to help keep weapons from the hands of the mentally ill.

I, and others, have been insulted, called names, demeaned and in general, had the spirit of compromise spat upon.

OK, that's fine. Perhaps it is time to step up the pressure for much stricter regulations on who can own a handgun or rifle and under what circumstances. Perhaps ownership should be denied if the applicant, or anyone in their family has a criminal record, or history of mental impairment, no matter how slight.

Before you break your keyboard from sudden, violent, rage induced typing, spewing spittle all over your monitor as you froth at the mouth, remember: I tried to be nice.

As sickening as the practice is, I hope the media continues publishing pictures of the young victims, the NRA keeps stonewalling, and right wing, conservative gun nuts maintain their rabid defense of current gun laws, crying out for arming everyone.

This might be easier than I thought.

By: ohplease on 12/18/12 at 9:36

Remember the shooting at Fort Hood? There, on a military base, with soldiers trained in the use of guns, a shooter was able to kill 13 and wound 29. Just a reminder that the good guys don't automatically win just because they're the good guys. Remember friendly fire? Even those highly trained military professionals can't prevent the deaths of people on the same side. And one closing note -- one of the children buried today had been shot 9 times. Nine shots in one six-year-old body. How can we respond to that except by demanding change?

By: CrimesDown on 12/18/12 at 9:37

RE: ancienthighway

There's not a one hundred percent guarantee any of us will wake up tomorrow. Do me a favor ancienthighway. Dave Grossman has written two books. Here is the information.

Every citizen and lawmaker the United States should read two books by Dave Grossman. Grossman's career includes service in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, a platoon leader in the 9th Infantry Division, a general staff officer, a company commander in the 7th (Light) Infantry Division as well as a parachute infantryman, a U.S. Army Ranger and a teacher of psychology at West Point.

In February 1998,[2] Grossman retired from the military as Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University.

Grossman's two books are "On Killing" and "On Combat". Please read both if you have the time, but everyone should read "On Combat". The book compares first shooter video games with the techniques our own military uses to desensitize our soldiers to killing. In my opinion, this has more to do with young people being involved in unthinkable acts that have horrified our nation.

Please read them and let me know what you think. At least read "ON Combat".

By: gdiafante on 12/19/12 at 6:16

This is Tennessee we're talking about...

I find it interesting that those on the pro-gun side seem to forget the assault weapon ban that was in place until 2004. Now, I'm no expert, but it seems that having federal gun restrictions didn't abolish the 2nd amendment, no? So arguing that this is part of a larger plan to get rid of guns is laughable.

And, honestly, is there anyone on the planet that can justify the need for these high capacity magazines in private use? As they say on ESPN, C'mon man.

Now, there will always be a gun problem in this country, even if they started manufacturing weapons tomorrow that have high-technology security that allows only the owner to fire the weapon, there are millions of guns out there that aren't. And if someone wants one, they'll get one.

It's a shame that our justice system seems to care more about some nitwit firing up a joint than the proliferation of guns in this country. We could start there.

By: gdiafante on 12/19/12 at 6:18

I should clarify that last sentiment, the proliferation of illegal guns is what I meant to say.

By: Badbob on 12/19/12 at 7:29

Tennessee is only beaten by New Mexico and Louisiana in the most number of murders per capita. And our Governor either believes that is OK, or believes the NRA's BS.

By: erbymi02 on 12/19/12 at 11:47

Don't worry Tennessee, your guns are safe here. We realize the only way you are going to give em up those guns is "GOD almighty" has to come down and get em.

But then you say you believe in GOD and you love Jesus. You also say you want your freedom (to carry my GUN). Why is it that most of you pray to a God you know you don't believe in. The other half never believed anyway.

When the next shooting happens, and there will be more, I hope it's three times as many, and the one after that is four times as many, and the one that will surely follow that will be five times as many until you knuckleheads realize that these guns are doing just what they were designed to do. KILL.

So Don't believe the hype that: "Guns Don't Kill, People Do".
What idiot coined that phrase...

Everyone knows the only reason they hold onto guns is because that are afraid. These are some of the scariest people you will ever come across. The make every excuse in the world to keep em. They feel defenseless without their guns. I believe many of them probably were bullied in school and as adults could not wait to purchase a hand guns, an assault rifles, some grenades, an a stockpile of ammo. Their attitude going forward is **** with me now!

Maybe the next wake-up call will be one of yours. And the next set of tears you shed may it be for one of your own. KILL KILL KILL....


By: yucchhii on 12/19/12 at 12:54

Haslam is a CRIMINAL!! In fact so are "ALL" politicians! Republicans AND Democrats! Haslam could careless about those kids. For him, it's NOT about the kids OR their familes whose hearts are hurting right now. Again, haslam is a cold hearted CRIMINAL! Look at his attempt to remove the Occupy protestors from legislative plaza, the protestors are onto something and they know it...haslam saw them as a threat. If the criminals...I mean politicians REALLY HAD NOTHING TO HIDE, WHY WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE PROTESTORS COULD DO? Let them be! But obviously the CRIMINALS have big time BS to hide!! Haslam didn't want the protestors to open they're closet doors to be exposed! What's in YOUR closet? I already know there are going to be IDIOTS to respond to my comment with STUPID CRAP, but they won't care because they think nowadays that "STUPIDTY" is the hip thing and they ACTUALLY PERSUE STUPIDITY" Yes, they WANT to be stupid!! Before you give me a STUPID comment, try doing some reserach, especially on the protestors...otherwise, I'll be glad to oblige you and SHOW THE STUPIDTY WITHIN YOU!!! There are those who may disagree with me in a respectful way and to those I say you have the right to disagree and I will respect your view!