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Tennessee firearms group calls Harwell 'pink elephant'

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Firearms Association is denouncing Tennessee's first female House speaker as the "pink elephant in the room" in calling for Beth Harwell's replacement as the chamber's leader.

Harwell is seeking the Republican nomination for a fourth term as speaker when the House GOP caucus meets on Thursday. She is being challenged by Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City.

The Tennessee Firearms Association has long criticized Harwell for not being aggressive enough on gun rights issues, even though the Legislature has passed several measures loosening firearms restrictions in Tennessee while she has been speaker. They include allowing faculty to be armed on college campuses, keeping cities and counties from enacting gun bans in public parks and barring employers from preventing workers from storing handguns in vehicles parked on company lots.