published Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Governor vetoes Tennessee bill to allow guns in bars

NASHVILLE — Gov. Phil Bredesen says the “guns-in-bars” bill he voted today is in an “even more expansive and dangerous form” than the “reckless” version he vetoed a year ago.

In a veto message sent to House Speaker Kent Williams and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, Gov. Bredesen said “a successful court challenge to last year’s actions provided the General Assembly with a second opportunity to reconsider and adopt a more responsible approach to this issue.

“Instead,” he said, “the General Assembly has essentially re-passed last year’s legislation in an even more expansive and dangerous form. For this reason, I cannot sign it into law.”

He said he is “well aware” of the majorities the bill received this year, “but as you consider this veto, I again respectively urge the legislature to rethink this issue.”

The governor repeated his statement last year that he was taught in gun-safety classes that “guns and alcohol don’t mix.”

Gov. Bredesen is in China. His spokeswoman, Lydia Lenker, did not respond to an immediate inquiry as to whether the governor transmitted the message from China.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill allowing the state’s estimated 270,000 handgun carry permit owners to go armed in establishments selling alcohol for on-premises consumption provided the establishments met certain food service requirements and the permit holders did not drink. Permit holders also could not go into establishment where businesses posted signs banning guns.

The governor vetoed the 2009 bill, but lawmakers urged on by the National Rifle Association and others quickly overrode him and the legislation became law. However, a Davidson County judge later ruled the law unconstitutionally vague, saying permit holders had no way of knowing whether an establishment was meeting food requirements.

In effort to address that, sponsors’ bill this year simply said a permit holder could enter any establishment selling alcohol for on-premises consumption provided they did not drink and the establishment did not post signs banning guns.

The list of establishments now includes restaurants, bars, beer taverns, nightclubs, museums, zoos and other entities that have state liquor licenses or local beer permits for on-premise consumption.

The Tennessee Firearms Association’s Legislative Action Committee today said in an e-mail that it “expects this to move forward swiftly with a veto override.”

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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Tahuaya said...

Since I live in Georgia, I ought to stay out of this fight but I agree with the governor, guns and alcohol do not mix. What nut would want guns in a bar where some patrons will over indulge and be on the edge of common sense? I think the legislatures of Georgia and Tennessee are nuts. It is time to vote them out. In Georgia, the legislature wants citizens to be able to take guns into the airport. How stupid is that? Now in Tennessee they want guns in bars. How stupid is that? I vote for common sense!

May 18, 2010 at 9:18 p.m.
rolando said...

It is not a question of whether guns in bars is a good idea or not. It is because a judge said essentially, " we will either have guns in bars or nowhere near alcohol." Our answer is and was, "Then Everywhere it is."

Even the legislature originally agreed on Bredesen's point about keeping guns out of bars. But at the same time, it insists on the overarching and overriding right of a Permit carrier to carry where alcohol [like beer] is served when that is not the business' primary business [as in Outback, Chili's, Logan's, or any of the food purveyors along our freeways.

Let us always remember, drinking alcohol in any form while armed is illegal and has been for some time.

Evidently the nutty judge who found the original law unconstitutional and too vague wanted guns kept away from alcohol, period; since he couldn't find any way to outlaw guns altogether, he chose that method...and it backfired -- as it should.

Now all we need is an[other] override of Bredesen's veto.

May 18, 2010 at 10 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


When he vetoed the previous bill, he performed his theatrics behind a phalanx of police officers.

This time he phoned it in from China?

What the hell is wrong with this moron?

Just to be consistent, he should insist that his THP bodyguards disarm themselves anytime they accompany him to any event, residence, or restaurant where alcohol is served. You know, cause "guns and alcohol don't mix".

May 18, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I still think that if you are so scared of going to a bar you feel like you have to take a gun, you probably just shouldn't go to that bar in the first place.

May 19, 2010 at 12:21 a.m.
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