Well, a weekend, actually.
A bill that would prohibit the governor’s ability to seize firearms and restrict ammunition sales during an emergency has run into opposition from the governor himself.
. . . Mary Freeman, Bredesen’s director of legislation, wrote a March 13 letter to Norris [the bill's sponsor in the State Senate] asking him to “consider halting further action” on the bill because the Bredesen administration respectively disagrees “with the intent of this legislation and therefore cannot support it.”
Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was at one time leery of giving up that power, signaled his support Monday for a plan to prevent Tennessee officials from suspending the sale or transport of guns during a Hurricane Katrina-like emergency.
What changed over the weekend?
The City Paper ran its report about the Governor’s opposition. Four bloggers picked up the story. And Glenn Reynolds, a constitutional law professor, Second Amendment lawyer, and writer of the influential website Instapundit, chastised Gov. Bredesen for his stance.
Contrast this quick reversal with what happened seven years ago when the provision granting Tennessee’s governor the emergency power to seize lawfully owned weapons passed unanimously through the State Legislature.*
“Where was the outrage then? Why did nobody speak up about this gross injustice at the time the bill passed?” asked Sean Braisted (guest blogging while I was away on military duty).
To which SayUncle perceptively replied:
Did you have a blog then?
Not only does this incident illustrate the power of the blogosphere, it also demonstrates why things like McCain-Feingold, which limits political speech immediately before an election, are so troubling. Seven years ago, before blogging really took off, a bad law was passed, unanimously, and no one said a word. In 2007 the Governor wanted to maintain the law, a reporter reported it, some bloggers remarked on it, a few hundred thousand people read about it, and poof, the Governor changed his mind over the course of a weekend.
*Note, SgtLarry notes that the bill only forbade the “transportation” of weapons. However, as he also implies, “transportation” can be overly broadly interpreted.
UPDATE: As TF noted in the comments at ACK’s place, radio also had a role in this reversal. I apologize for the omission, but my excuse is that, instead of listening to the radio this past Friday, I spent 18 hours either in the air or at four different airports.