published Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Tennessee and guns: Candidates for governor weigh in

PDF: Candidates speak out on the issues: Guns

PDF: Full Transcript


The survey on gun issues was conducted via written questionnaires by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. It is the first in a monthly series on issues in the 2010 governor’s race. The surveys will be conducted by the Tennessee Newspaper Network, a collaborative newsgathering venture of the state’s major newspapers, including the Chattanooga Times Free Press and papers in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.

By Richard Locker

The Commercial Appeal

NASHVILLE — Tennesseans who support or oppose the expansion of gun rights, or who fall somewhere in between, likely will find candidates for governor this year who share their views.

A Tennessee Newspaper Network survey of the major candidates — four Republicans and three Democrats — shows candidates taking a range of positions on several gun issues up for debate at the Capitol after the General Assembly convenes Tuesday.

Those issues range from guns in bars, parks and college campuses to guns on employer-owned parking lots and in leased property. (The candidates’ complete answers are online at

After years of slow progress in their efforts to expand gun rights, gun advocates scored victories with several new state laws in 2009, when Republicans won control of both houses of the legislature.

The new laws allowed nearly 250,000 Tennesseans with handgun-carry permits — and millions more issued by states whose carry permits are legally valid in Tennessee — to take their guns into places that serve alcohol and into all state, federal, city and county parks in Tennessee.

The new law allows city councils and county commissions to exempt some or all of their local parks from guns. Several — including Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville — exercised the “opt-out” provision to keep

local parks off-limits to guns.

But a Nashville judge declared the guns-inbars law unconstitutionally vague. Gun advocacy groups and their legislative supporters vow to pass a new law this year allowing guns in restaurants serving alcohol.

All seven major candidates expressed support for Second Amendment rights but differ sharply on guns-inbars and other issues.

Three Republicans — Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam; Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, of Blountville; and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, of Chattanooga, said they support renewing the gunsin-bars law.

The Democrats — Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle, of Memphis; former House Democratic Leader Kim McMillan, of Clarksville; and Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, plus Republican Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons — expressed opposition to guns in places serving alcohol.

Some gun groups also want to repeal the “opt-out” provision of the guns-inparks law so that carry-permit holders may take their guns into all local parks regardless of local preferences.

Only one candidate — Lt. Gov. Ramsey — supports removing the authority of local elected officials to set policy on guns in local parks.

All seven favor tougher penalties and mandatory prison terms for gun crimes. But that’s the only specific gun issue on which the candidates are unanimous. Their differing views do not always break along party lines.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Rep. Wamp favor allowing guns on campus, while Mr. Gibbons and all three Democrats said it’s a bad idea.

All four Republicans — plus Democrat Jim Kyle — favor changing state law so that landlords cannot prohibit tenants from having guns in their leased property.

Candidates are divided over whether businesses should be allowed to ban employees from bringing guns onto company-owned property. A bill to allow gun-carry permit holders to keep their guns in locked cars on employee parking lots, regardless of company policy, failed in 2009 but will be debated again this year.

E-mail Richard Locker@

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whetstone said...

It really bothers me the way the news portrays the issue of guns in businesses that serve alchohol. Like we are all going in to get drunk and act irresponsibly. Going thru the steps to acquire the permit promotes educated responsibility. As a registered gun carrying citizen I am aware that: #1 Alchohol cannot be consumed by me while the gun is my possession. #2 If alchohol has been consumed or will be the gun better be at home.Not in the glovebox or under the seat. There are substantial penalties if either of these things occur.Therefore if I am at Chili's or TGIF or a more formal setting I am in a position to protect my family and someone elses with a clarity of sobriety. So people in the news please become educated on this subject so that you can give a fair and honest review.

January 10, 2010 at 10:39 a.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

3 If you abuse alcohol you can not drive a car.

How's that law holding up? It just takes one.

January 10, 2010 at 10:57 a.m.
cave_demon said...

and what about the constitutional rights of non-gun toting people to feel safe when we go somewhere? are we expected to count on Jim Bob the redneck gun carrier to save us all when the barroom brawl breaks out? LOL! Gun carriers are complete tools. They think they can save the world with their guns (every single one of 'em will tell you that they would have been the hero at Virginia Tech or any other mass shooting). What a load of crap. And you talk about how gun-toters are "law-abiding citizens". Sure. Just like those carry permit rednecks that carried their guns into bars BEFORE the law was passed (and talked about having a gun on him)? You mean THOSE law-abiders? Cops are supposed to be law-abiders, too. Yet every single day, some cop does something illegal. As seasmokie said, "it only takes one". And here in Tennessee, there's A LOT more than one cowboy.

January 10, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Of the contrary, I am a permit holder in three states, I have been a member of the NRA since 2002 and I believe SOME gun laws are needed. For instance, guns on planes, no; guns on busses and trains, yes. Guns in parks, yes; guns at Rivebend, no! Guns and alcohol don't mix no matter how look at it. If you feel your life or families life is in that much danger, then don't go to that bar.

January 10, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

....and before you say "not one", do some research on a piece of crap named "Ashford Thompson".

January 10, 2010 at 12:34 p.m.
rolando said...

You need to do some Thompson research yourself, Smokie. According to Thompson was initially indicted on two charges -- carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. The first charge means he was carrying illegally; that is, he did not have a concealed carry permit...that eliminates him from "law-abiding, permit-holding" status and destroys your "all it takes is one" argument.


January 10, 2010 at 2:15 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Rolando, once again your lack of research...... The gun charge was for having an unregistered firearm, he had a CC permit. Now I need to go take shower, for having had to defend this guy.

January 10, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.
rolando said...

Jan 09 Twinsburg Sun "...Thompson was indicted on nine felonies...[including] one count of carrying a concealed weapon."

No mention made of an unregistered weapon. The indictment indicates he had no carry permit.

" 13 Apr 09. "TRIAL BEGINS...Thompson is charged with aggravated murder, escape, tampering with evidence, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and several weapons offenses."

No mention of unregistered weapon, just "carrying a concealed weapon". This indicates he had no carry permit.

That is what I have thus far...what do you have [that's verifiable] supporting your claim that he had a carry permit, Smokie?

January 10, 2010 at 3:49 p.m.
rolando said...

Or that the gun was "unregistered"...

January 10, 2010 at 3:51 p.m.
jabatten said...

Ok people, the main point that needs to be addressed about Tennessee gun rights is simple....IF THE GOVERNMENT TRUST YOUR TRAINING AND BACKGROUND ENOUGH TO ISSUE YOU A CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT TO CARRY WITHIN THIS STATE, WHY DO THE MEDIA AS WELL AS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FEEL THEY NEED TO REGULATE LAWS AND CREATE HAVIC AMONG SUPPORTERS AND ANTI GUN SUPPORTERS IN THIS STATE? I agree that there needs to be tough gun laws and penalties for those who use guns to commit crimes. On the other hand, I don't feel that ANYONE should be able to decide whether I have the right to protect my family or not based on the fact they are against gun rights. Personally, I agree with the comments above in that when I travel to and from work that is my time and if an employer says you cannot have a gun locked kept in your vehicle then that employer is regulating your right as a licensed citizen to protect yourself or family on the days that you are working for their company. If I am taking my family out to eat and that restaurant serves alcohol...what does that have to do with a CCW licensee or me if I am not consuming?? I currently hold CCW's from 5 states including Tennessee and have been carrying since own family and friends don't even know if I an carrying a weapon! Isn't that the point of a CCW? The MEDIA IS TO BLAME for all the negative aspects of the so called "Guns in Bars" bill since it was never about "Guns in Bars" rather than Guns in Restaurants that serve alcohol. People like me KNOW that we are not going to carry a gun into a bar period...but taking away my gun rights because I eat at a restaurant that serves alcohol...come on! Maybe we should outlaw criminals from entering establishments that serve alcohol, parks and other public places. Maybe restaurants should conduct background checks on everybody wanting to eat at their establishment...sounds ridiculous doesn't it??

January 10, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.
rolando said...

One further point re: the Second Amendment -- It makes NO reference to FEELING anything, be it "safe" or "unoffended". The ONLY thing it says is my RIGHT "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". Anyone who doesn't like that better work to amend the Constitution.

January 10, 2010 at 4:13 p.m.
Jason said...

I am a legal gun carrier of this state. Some of the views we have before our government this year needs some attention. I am also life time member of the NRA. But I don't neccessarily agree with with the entire ruling allowing us to carry guns in to a alcohol returants. I am also a recovering alcoholic of 12 years. When under the influence of alcohol eventually they are not thinking rationally, and I think it help help the situation when that individual isn't think coherently and in possesion of a gun. Maybe if they would adjust the law to allow legal people to enter resturants but not be allowed to enter the bar area. As to the fact of being able to protect myself, yes I will protect myself at all cost. But what people fail to realize is with privileges comes responsibilty and I feel that some people have forgot the fact since being afforded the privilege of carry gun legally. Death is the ultimate responsibility of the consequences.

January 10, 2010 at 5:21 p.m.
rolando said...

So far as I can find, the whole "Thompson held a CCW Permit" thing is solely based on one man's comment early on in the investigation; to wit, an online edition of the Plain Dealer stated, and I quote, "Thompson had a permit from the state to carry a concealed weapon, although it's unclear if the registered weapon was the one used to shoot Miktarian, said David Maistros, the Twinsburg city prosecutor."

If Ohio CCW Permit laws requires a specific weapon is the only one that can be carried concealed and Thompson was carrying the wrong weapon, then he was unlawfully carrying and his Permit was void. This makes him a non-holder; it also explains the charge of "carrying a concealed weapon", something that would not apply if he HAD been carrying legally. It would also explain your comment that Thompson was charged with carrying an "unregistered weapon".

<p>, having a vested interest, is not the most reliable authority on this issue. They cited the city prosecutor's words as gospel.

If nothing else, this case supports the idea that killers are not concerned with legalities...the fact the Permit was -- or maybe was -- invalid mattered not at all to him.

No sign anywhere that Thompson DID, in fact, have a valid concealed carry Permit for that Kel Tec P11 he used to kill the officer. Nor does any reliable source say he didn't.

Sounds like you are a bit caught up in the whole thing, Smokie. BTW, I see nothing at all showing you defending this cop-killer in any way; your hands are clean.

In closing, , the Officer Down Memorial Page, lists 151 officers killed in the line of duty by non-accidental gunfire between 2007 and 2009, the years used by; that's 9 alleged CCW Permit holders of 151 killers. That means at least 142 were killed by NON-holders -- and yet doesn't list those... I wonder why?

January 10, 2010 at 6:24 p.m.
rolando said...

indian, you are 1,000 percent correct in everything you say. Period.

Jason, regarding guns and I understand it, if someone is legally carrying a weapon and has a drink of alcohol -- even a sip of beer -- the Permit immediately becomes invalid and the holder becomes a lawbreaker carrying without a Permit. Period.

Personally, I value my Carry Permit much too much to do such a stupid thing...and anyone who IS that stupid should not be allowed to have a Permit or even a hunting license.

BTW, carrying a gun is not a privilege as you stated; it is a constitutionally enumerated and guaranteed right. Marriage is a privilege.

January 10, 2010 at 6:34 p.m.
Humphrey said...

brock, brock, brock

January 10, 2010 at 6:45 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Have many of you had to use your firearm to protect yourself or your family? I haven't been able to find any statistics on that. If it happens frequently, it might be a valid argument in support gun rights.

January 10, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Rolando, I will conceed you the Thompson example, but not to the "not one" argument. And I thought you didn't do research.

BTW, if you go one mile over the speed limit aren't you considered a law breaker? Haven't we all rolled thru a stop sign, downloaded music and painted a red "B" on the Missionary Ridge tunnel? (allegedly)

January 10, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
borninusa said...

this is to "cave_demon" Permit carrying citizens are not expecting anything of YOU! We tend to mind our own business and in reality, do not go around bragging that we have a permit to carry, rednecks or not. If you think we expect you to turn to us for protection in a bar room should not be in that kind of bar in the first place. The citizens who have a permit only want the right to carry for personal protection and the protection of our families. We don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry pointing fingers at us when some crook kills and robs because they have a handgun illegally. That is not our fault. Why can't people just mind their own business.

January 10, 2010 at 7:58 p.m.
borninusa said...

To Indian


January 10, 2010 at 8:01 p.m.

I agree, the Second Amendment is the final arbiter. These days the Government would love nothing better than to strip we, the loud people of every protection and right we have. Then they would be in total control.

Some sundry thoughts: Unfortunately, it has happened in various countries under various regimes and in most of those, their armies have become the brutal masters, torturers and killers. Some, smaller countries that don't have a weapon-carrying populace or police force could sure use them now. I think of Britain, that in recent years had the Islamic terror bombings on their subway system and no one could protect themselves. I think of Israel, where Israelis face terror on a daily basis. One instance of a lone Arab Muslim run amok, driving an army tank, mowed down civilians and other vehicles. An off-duty soldier pulled out his gun and killed him just before he would have run over a car containing civilians. The Fort Hood soldiers should have been armed....

When I lived on Oahu and Molokai decades ago, the boys (some of them messed up bad) were returning from 'Nam smuggling their weapons in with them. Some were hooked on heroin and Hawaii, being one of the marijuana growing havens of the world, had multiple weed wars going on. Downtown Honolulu had every depraved criminal and crime(s) happening, even in broad daylight. I remember walking behind a man and woman and the guy whipped out a gun, held it to her head, shouting "I'm goin' ta kill ya"... we jumped him from behind. Drive by shootings are so common there (and in LA) that many people have sawed off shotguns under their front seats. Sometimes, you're just mosying along on the Highway, you pass a guy, he pulls his rifle out and goes berserk. It's like the wild, wild west. You have to get a bigger and better weapon to outshoot the shooters.

I have mixed feelings as a result because I've seen and heard many sides to these arguments. No gov't official is going to be able to predict who will go nuts, who is evil and who is not. Not even the Shrinks can. This world is not the same we grew up in, at least not in America. The responsible, decent and honest Citizen is going the way of the Dodo bird. The gun isn't the problem, the human species is.

For now, the 2nd Amendment stands. Pray it will ever be so for the entire Bill of Rights and our Constitution.

January 10, 2010 at 8:40 p.m.
rolando said...

I wasn't looking for a concession, Smokie, just trying to make a point regarding the reliability of sources of information. One has to really dig sometimes to get to the heart of the matter.

I don't recall saying I do not do research but, in any case, that doesn't mean I don't know how to do it. That was about a third of my job for 30-odd years. I would rather not do the indepth thing anymore, even though the Internet has made it a snap. I didn't bother researching the other eight officer shootings...

Experience has shown that unless you go right to the source, you are getting only half the story. Always. Sometimes less, very seldom more.

January 10, 2010 at 10:24 p.m.
rolando said...

Savarti -- The NRA has a monthly listing of cases you ask about. They probably number in the thousands or tens of thousands per year.

Statistics? If they were ever collected, they would be pretty much meaningless because those who draw a gun in self-defense seldom have to use it. Which means two things -- first and foremost, self-protection is certainly NOT News to today's media so you would never see it in print, and second, the Permit holder would see no reason to report it. It is not illegal, after all.

I carry a gun because I choose to, not because I have to. But if that day ever comes, I will be prepared.

January 10, 2010 at 10:33 p.m.
streetsmart said...

I'm still looking for the law that requires me to register this handgun I have a permit for. I bought it in the 60's. Didn't have permits or registration laws back then.I even qualified for my permit with it. Where is that law? Any of you guys that have no life other than in these comment sections know ? You know who you are. You have the answers for everything else.

January 11, 2010 at 12:50 a.m.
rolando said...

If you are speaking of Tennessee, streets, we have no state law requiring gun registration. Nor are our Carry Permits Permit, any [legal] gun.

I bought my first handgun in 1959 -- a .357 S&W Highway Patrolman, 4" barrel. No permit, no registration, just cash. Never carried concealed; Calif didn't allow at that time It was holstered on my hip in plain sight when I carried it. Perfectly legal back then although people looked a bit taken aback on occasion...

One is never too old to learn; try it, you might like it.

January 11, 2010 at 6:06 a.m.
streetsmart said...

If you are speaking of Tennessee, streets, we have no state law requiring gun registration. Nor are our Carry Permits Permit, any [legal] gun. Still Looking for the answer to my question. This is not California . No info in that statement. What does (leagal) mean. If you are making reference to new gun purchases, I don't recall my carry permit requireing a new gun purchase nor by Tn. law do I have to register a gun already in my posesssion .Nowhere in the CCW class was it mentioned that our weapon had to be registered. Also you may be taken aback to learn you may posess a handgun at your business witout a permit nor does it have to be registered. Please point out the law . If it exist it can't be that hard to find. One is never too old to learn; try it, you might like it.I'm still trying but don't get very far here.

January 11, 2010 at 6:48 a.m.

Streetsmart = smart about the street, on the 'street', knows what's up with real people in real time. Understands the lingo, English in this case.

Rolando writes: "If you are speaking of Tennessee streets, we have no state law requiring gun Permit, any [legal] gun"

s-m's comment: "I'm still trying but don't get very far here."

You're either meth-ed up or you're a schmuck who likes to push buttons or both. Now who needs a life?

January 11, 2010 at 8:40 a.m.
streetsmart said...

Well , well . The moron finally responded.Sorry Rolando I was fishing for the moron. LOL I didn't ask for an opinion here. I asked for the proof of the law . It either exist or it doesn't. You tell me. Mr Bird in the dark hole. I love to push your button because your so easy. Idiots usually are. FBI , Secret Service whatever you claim . Lies , all lies. I might add , I seldom come here. When I do , it's for the entertainment. I find from the post you place here. You are winning the bigest looser award of the year . MuHaaaaaaaaaaaa !Did that push a button.Just tell me Is there a law or not !!!! Yes ? No? Opinions don't count .

January 11, 2010 at 12:34 p.m.
rolando said...

"If you are speaking of Tennessee, streets, we have no state law requiring gun registration. Nor are our Carry Permits Permit, any [legal] gun."

What part of that statement did you not understand, streetsmart?

google "legal". No machine-pistols, etc.

Where did you get the idea one must register a handgun here in Tennessee? Certainly not from me.

My reference to my first gun was in direct response to your claim of a 1960 purchase...which also had no useful info...

January 11, 2010 at 12:52 p.m.
Tishers said...

Quote:: "and what about the constitutional rights of non-gun toting people to feel safe when we go somewhere? are we expected to count on Jim Bob the redneck gun carrier to save us all when the barroom brawl breaks out?" EndQuote::

Do you really feel safer? Maybe you do not understand that a criminal does not care one whit about carry permits.

People with a permit need to meet a certain standard, training, criminal background checks, etc... They also pay extra and face greater scrutiny if they commit any sort of crime while carrying a firearm.

The world is not nirvana where fluffy bunnies cuddle up next to easter eggs under the fake plastic grass. There are some truly bad people out there and quite a few of us who have carry permits have had some instance in our lives or the lives of our loved ones for us to feel the need to not be a lamb led to the slaughter.

January 11, 2010 at 1:50 p.m.
rolando said...

Once again, our constitution says nothing whatsoever about a made-up "right" to be unoffended or to "feel" safe.

Anyone wanting to "feel" safe should stay away from bars where brawls break out. Having been in a number of those bars as well as nicer ones [on business and on duty, thank you], I can assure you the difference is very, very obvious. Anyone staying in the rowdier ones are there by choice... Guns don't matter in there either; they use beer bottles or whatever is handy.

January 11, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.
jabatten said...

Why can't we all just get along?

January 13, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
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