By Richard Locker, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 4, 2009

NASHVILLE — The state House of Representatives took less than two minutes Monday to pass a bill closing handgun-carry permit records to the public.

The House’s 83-12 vote, with no debate, came two days after a gun-carry licensee, Thomas Pate, 26, of Bartlett, was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife, Micah, also 26.

Micah Pate’s gun slaying was the fourth in Shelby County in three months in which the accused killers had state-issued carry permits.

The bill to close the records is awaiting final approval in the Senate, where its sponsor, Mark Norris, R-Collierville, could call it up for a vote by Thursday.

Tennessee has more than 220,000 handgun-carry permit holders, and state law also recognizes carry permits from several other states.

The Commercial Appeal ignited a firestorm of opposition from permit holders earlier this year for posting a searchable database of the Tennessee licensees on its Web site.

The bill by Norris and Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Pulaski, originally contained a provision to fine any news outlet or other entity $2,500 for publishing information from permit records. That provision was removed when its constitutionality was questioned.

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