Governor Bill Haslam suggested banning the purchase of bump stocks for gun modification and upping the age to purchase an AR-15 during a breakfast event in Washington, D.C. Friday morning.
Haslam along with other Tennessee lawmakers said they support President Donald Trump’s push to ban bump stocks. Haslam also said he’d like to see the age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles be risen to 21 instead of 19.
“It’s just crazy to me that you can’t buy a beer at 19, but you can buy an AR-15,” Haslam said during a speech at the breakfast event at the Pew Charitable Trusts Friday.
Earlier this week, President Trump suggested tougher background checks and mental health screenings for those looking to purchase a gun. The gun discussion comes after a mass shooting at a Florida high school more than a week ago.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Lamar Alexander are co-sponsors of a Senate bill that calls for strengthening federal background checks. Both believe more needs to be done to prevent mass shootings.
Governor Haslam echoes the president and both senators saying he’d also like to see background checks be strengthened more for those looking to purchase guns.
“This has to happen federally, but beginning to work on making the background check a lot better process,” he said. “We’re miles apart on the whole gun control debate. We’re not going to have this sweeping change. I think starting to do something like that most people would say, ‘Ok, that’s common sense, I can agree with that,’ is the right thing to do, to show we’ve got an issue in this country.”
Tennessee state republicans said they do appreciate President Trump’s suggestion for tougher gun legislation, but want to see more discussion about limitations at the state level. Tennessee state democrats said they are willing to find compromise on gun control this point in time.
Last year, Governor Haslam allowed a controversial guns-on-campus bill to become law without his signature. That allows full-time faculty, staff and other employees of Tennessee’s public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to carry their guns on campus. They do have to notify local law enforcement.
A policy from November 2017 allows Tennesseans to carry guns inside the Cordell Hull building. Both House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said in a joint statement that any Tennesseans with a valid gun permit would be allowed to bring their weapons inside the building.
Haslam said this week he and his administration will also begin reviewing school security across the state following the shooting in Florida.