published Friday, May 15th, 2009

Tennessee: Senate gives final approval to gun bill

Audio clip

Doug Jackson

NASHVILLE — Legislation allowing Tennessee’s 220,000 handgun-carry permit owners to go armed into establishments serving alcohol, including bars, is on its way to Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Senators approved a conference committee report on House Bill 962 Thursday on a 24-7 vote. House members had approved the report earlier this week.

The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm immediately sent an e-mail alert to Tennessee members, asking they contact Gov. Bredesen’s office and “respectfully urge him to sign” the measure. Gov. Bredesen has not said where he stands on the bill.

A spokeswoman said Thursday he will review the bill.

The final version allows permit holders in Tennessee and 19 states with reciprocal agreements to go armed in establishments selling alcohol, provided they do not consume alcohol themselves. Permit holders could not go armed in establishments where owners post signs prohibiting guns.

Extending permit holders’ ability to go armed into establishments selling alcohol was opposed by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Restaurant Association.

“There is no evidence that such restrictions would endanger public safety,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, who criticized police chiefs and the news media.

Sen. Jackson said “gun-free zones” do not work and in fact “criminals flourish” there. He cited state figures showing 278 Tennessee permits were revoked last year after permit holders were convicted of felonies.

Among senators voting no was Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.

“I think that common sense tells you everything you want to know when you vote on a bill called ‘guns in bars,’” Sen. Berke said.

Nick Bowers, owner of the Pickle Barrel restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, said if Gov. Bredesen allows the bill to become law, he would “probably have to buy a sign that would state clearly that no one except an officer of the law would be able to bring a gun in the Pickle Barrel.”

Mr. Bowers dryly observed that, after several drinks, a person’s thinking may be “altered a little bit and sometimes people even become uninhibited ... these people will sometimes steal things or get in fights or various things.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of anything like that, but it does seem to happen,” Mr. Bowers said.

Mike Dougher, manager of Rhythm & Brews in Chattanooga, said he doesn’t like the idea of guns in the downtown entertainment venue. He questioned the effectiveness of posting signs banning the guns, asking, “Who would catch them? Me? I mean, I’m not going to deal with it.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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nucanuck said...

As civility slips away,all too many of us stand silently and watch.

May 15, 2009 at 10:28 a.m.
MountainJoe said...

Berke is a chump. Nothing about this bill said "guns in bars." The bill allows people to carry guns into restaurants that happen to serve alcohol, but NOT to carry while drinking. So my question is did he not actually read the bill, or is he just being disingenuous while pandering to his gun-grabbing liberal constituents?

I suppose Berke and the (fortunately few) other senators who voted against the bill would be perfectly OK if some restaurant waitress - who wouldn't be allowed to drink while on the job anyway - got raped and murdered while on her way back to her car late one night after work because she had to leave her weapon in the car (or at home). Heaven forbid she might be able to actually defend herself if attacked by some vicious thug.

The Second Amendment doesn't have any exceptions. We have the right to defend ourselves wherever we go, be it in a restaurant, in a park, or on a college campus. It is about time our legislators started to realize that.

May 15, 2009 at 12:34 p.m.
utjohn said...

Sen Doug Jackson is a moron. He states that there is no evidence this will endanger public safety, but clearly he does not read anything as all evidence clearly indicates that it will. This is all a moot point anyway as Gov. Bredeson will rightfully veto this bill put forth by idiotic state senators with barely more than a high school education apparently. Living in Memphis (the 2nd most dangerous city in the US) I can tell you the LAST thing we need is more guns here. That would be idiotic.

May 15, 2009 at 1:16 p.m.
Whacker said...

Evidence and moot point? 38 other states haven't had a problem with allowing carry permits holders around alcohol. What "all evidence clearly indicates" are you talking about? Moot point? A veto would be overturned. Did you not see the votes for?

May 15, 2009 at 2:06 p.m.
utjohn said...

According the CIUS FBI rankings of 2007, Tennessee had a violent crime rate of 753.3 per 100,000 placing it in the bottom five of all fifty states. The rates of aggravated assault, burglary, forcible rape, and overall gun-crime were also comparably bad. These staggering and alarming statistics will only be worsened by the passage of these Bills allowing guns to be carried in state parks, restaurants where alcohol is served, and universities. As Prof. Mark Duggan points out in his research that examined the relationship between gun-ownership and crime, “changes in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate.”[1] This point is further illustrated by Yale Professor John Donohue in his refutation that somehow by increasing the number of guns in circulation could conceivably deter crime. As he wisely demonstrates, “gun-carrying only serves to shift the burden of crime from a target likely to be able to use a gun to someone who does not possess or will not be in a position to use a gun defensively at the moment of criminal attack.”[2] On a more practical aspect, he again wisely points out that from 1977-1999 “crime fell more in the 22 states that did not adopt a concealed-carry law than in those states that did” and financially these laws increased the “costs of crime to the tune of $1 billion per year.”[3]

1] Duggan, Mark G.,More Guns, More Crime(October 2000). NBER Working Paper No. W7967. Available at SSRN:

[2] John Donohue. "Guns, Crime, and the Impact of State Right-to-Carry Laws" Fordham Law Review 73 (2004): 623. Available at:

[3] John Donohue and Ian Ayres. "The Latest Misfires in Support of the ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ Hypothesis" Stanford Law Review 55 (2003): 1371. Available at:

May 15, 2009 at 3:21 p.m.
una61 said...

Will waitresses now be expected to ask, "Guns or No Guns?" ? Maybe we can use some of the Obama bailout money to install gun racks in Restaurants and Bars. Sen. Berke did the rational thing.

May 15, 2009 at 4:06 p.m.
thatpilottech said...

Every state that borders Tennessee, except North Carolina, allows guns in restaurants that serve alcohol. Virginia requires that the gun be openly visible, and states such as Kentucky and Alabama have no laws against drinking while carrying. How many shootouts have you heard about in Atlanta, or Birmingham, or Louisville, or Richmond, or.... that have involved a person who has a carry permit? Fact is that carry permit holders have a stellar record when it comes to behaving ourselvs in oublic, and out of public for that matter. In Tennessee 278 revocations out of 220,000. Not bad, about 1/5 of 1% (and only ONE that I know of involved a gun). What's the record like for POLICE who commit crimes while on or off duty, atleast double that at 1/2 of 1%.

Myself, and everyone else who carries knows that we have a responsibility to behave civilly. Anytime that I even THINK there might be a conflict (such as dealing with customer service about a hot issue, etc), I leave behind my gun. I travel frequently, many destinations I take my gun with me, even check it as baggage on the airlines. I have carried into many places that serve alcohol. I never drink when I carry, even if allowed to by law. My friends and business associates know I carry, and I usually end up being designated driver for the evening.

In Tennseess restaurants (and other business and property owners) have the right to post guns to be off limits. If they want to advertise that their restaurants are safe for criminals, I will choose to take my gun and my MONEY to an establishment that respects my right to carry. I am sure that Phil Bredesen will sign the bill into law, if not there are enough votes to override him.

May 15, 2009 at 9:07 p.m.
utjohn said...

You still miss the point that the OVERALL crime rate is increased when more guns are in circulation. The fact that permit holders have a low incidence of crime does matter to that point.

May 16, 2009 at 2:50 p.m.
utjohn said...

Article: Man on trial for shooting death at a karaoke bar after night of drinking and an altercation took place. The Deputy happened to have his gun with him in the bar..... you can see how well this night ended.

May 17, 2009 at 10:37 a.m.
legallyarmed said...

There is nothing in the liberal anti-gun comments that have been posted so far that suprises me. And since most of these comments are truly how they feel, I try to respect their position on gun control. I have taken a vow to protect my family from harm. I take that responsibility very seriously. I also take offense to anyone who would ask me to disarm simply because they have an issue with guns. I could walk up just about anyone on any given day and unless I told you that I was carrying my weapon, you would never know it. I respect the feeling of others and know that the sight of a weapon makes them feel uneasy. This holds true with most other permit holders. Brandishing your firearm has no purpose.

Some people insist on letting law enforcement do their jobs to protect our citizens. Here is a small statitic for you. On the average, it takes law enforcement approximately 7 minutes to respond to and arrive at the scene of an emergency. So, I ask you to choose one of the options below.

  1. You and your family are enjoying a pleasant night out for dinner and some gang decides to go take advantage of a situation where you are dining. Shots ring out and chaos ensues. One or more of your family are shot and possibly mortally. Unfortunately it takes the police about 7 minutes to get there. How many people can these perps kill in this amout of time?

  2. You and your family are enjoying a pleasant night out for dinner and some gang decides to go take advantage of a situation where you are dining. Shots ring out and chaos ensues. There are people dining there carrying handguns who react to the situation and in less than 10 seconds the perps are lying on the floor. Your family walks away unharmed.

It is true that the average citizen is not properly trained for this type of situation, but if I were forced into this I would take my chances.

If you value your family as much as I value mine, and if you prefer not to carry a firmarm, then that is your choice. But to ask me to put myself and my family at risk of harm just because you have an issue with firearms is neither fair nor reasonable.

May 17, 2009 at 10:26 p.m.
utjohn said...

I take offense to the fact that increased guns in circulation and looser gun laws mean a higher overall crime rate.

Furthermore, over 50% of this state's citizens have less than even a high school education. Why do I want my family to live in a state with a bunch of vigilantes that have little to no knowledge of anything let alone civility?

May 18, 2009 at 4 p.m.
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