Tennessee Considering Just Making Everyone With A Gun A Cop

Tennessee Considering Just Making Everyone With A Gun A Cop
Blazing Saddles

One little thing I have always found incredibly amusing is the fact that the only "acceptable" form of taxpayer subsidized post-secondary education is the kind that comes with a gun — police officers and the military. Also the fact that the biggest boosters of doling out unlimited funding to the police and military are the most likely to be absolutely appalled by the idea that anyone else's education ought to be subsidized. But this is fair. After all, if we didn't properly train police, they might just start going around killing unarmed Black people all of the time.

But the great state of Tennessee is considering getting rid of all of that training nonsense and just declaring that everyone in possession of an advanced handgun permit is a "law enforcement officer."

What could possibly go wrong?

The bill — a version of which is in both the state assembly (HB 254) and state senate (SB 2523) — reads:

As introduced, expands the definition of "law enforcement officer" to include a person who has been issued an enhanced handgun carry permit; provided, that the permit is not suspended, revoked, or expired, for purposes of authority to carry a firearm under certain circumstances.

If you are wondering why on earth anyone would want this, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, State Sen. Joey Hensley explained to ABC News that it was so the people who get these permits can take their guns with them anywhere an off-duty police officer can take them.

State Sen. Joey Hensley, who introduced the state Senate version of the bill, told ABC News that the goal of the bill was to allow enhanced gun permit carriers to carry their weapons into locations where off-duty law enforcement enter, such as a store or restaurant that prohibits guns inside their business. Hensley said the bill would not allow enhanced permit holders to bring their weapons into courts or schools.

"This is trying to open it up so that people who go to the extreme to get this extra permit can have the right to defend themselves in more places," the senator told ABC News Thursday.

OK, well why can't they just go to stores and restaurants that do allow guns inside their business? Is the invisible hand of the free market broken?

Curiously enough, actual police unions are not sure this is the best plan. Scottie DeLashmit, the president of Tennessee State Lodge for the Fraternal Order of Police told ABC news that actual police officers have to undergo lots of training in order to carry a weapon that is much more intensive than the training required to get an enhanced handgun permit.

It's not clear exactly what other benefits would come with this designation. Will they be able to arrest people? Pull people over on the side of the road? Will it be easier for them to kill people and claim they were simply doing their job as an officer of the law. Hensley claims that the bill will not actually make civilians law enforcement officers and that those who say that's what the words in the bill literally mean are misunderstanding him entirely.

"It's not doing that at all," Hensley said, clearly ignoring the part of the law about expanding "the definition of 'law enforcement officer' to include a person who has been issued an enhanced handgun carry permit."

Surely, if all he wanted was to be able to enjoy a non-fat venti iced white chocolate mocha with sweet cream cold foam and caramel drizzle at Starbucks with several AK-47s strapped to his person, he could have gone for making that a law, but he decided to go with deputizing the state's 686,348 active enhanced handgun carry permit holders instead.

Hensley, who also authored Tennessee's Don't Say Gay Bill, was caught in a bit of a scandal last year when it was discovered that he was prescribing opioids to his family by the truckful, including to his second cousin, whom he was banging. He was also one of four state senators in Tennessee who voted against removing slavery as a form of punishment from the state constitution. Oh, and he tried to pass a bill deeming children who are the product of artificial insemination to be illegitimate, which I truly did not realize was still a thing children were classified as in this post-Bastard Out Of Carolina world. He also opposed including tampons in the state's tax holiday weekend, because there was no limit to how many people could buy and they could buy too many. Possibly even enough to go to space for six days. AND he pushed a bill to fire the entire state historical commission for voting to get rid of a statue of KKK founder Nathaniel Bedford Forrest.

So basically dude is going to be the Republican nominee president inside ten years.

But I digress — some gun owners are not super keen on the idea:

Jonathan Gold, a Michigan-based firearms instructor and member of the non-profit Giffords Gun Owners for Safety, told ABC News the bill would encourage more vigilantism that would ultimately lead to more harm.

"I don't understand our regression to the old West, because this is what it feels like," he told ABC News. "I've studied the old West, and I don't think anyone wants to go back to the murder rate of Tombstone."

Oh, I don't know about that. I think it would really depend on who is doing the shooting and who is doing the dying. I think there are probably a few people out there who would not be super mad about a bunch of white dudes in cowboy hats and handlebar mustaches going around shooting at people.

Ironically, the shootout at the OK Corral was literally about gun control, as people were not actually allowed to go around armed on the streets of Tombstone and people visiting the town from outside were not allowed to bring their guns in. Some out-of-town cowboys broke that rule, brought guns into the town and the Earps and Doc Holliday got together at high noon to disarm them.

Perhaps there is a compromise that can be had here. Hensley can leave his guns at home when he goes to shops and restaurants, and he can get one of those cute little Sheriff's badges they give out at Chuck E. Cheese for winning 10,000 games of skeeball. Seems fair to me.

This is now your open thread!

This post has been updated to include some of the 87,000 completely batshit other bills this man has tried to pass.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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