published Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Bredesen vetoes new 'guns in bars' bill

NASHVILLE -- Gov. Phil Bredesen on Tuesday vetoed legislation allowing Tennessee's estimated 270,000 handgun-carry permit holders go armed in restaurants, bars, museums and other establishments licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.

In his veto message to the General Assembly, Gov. Bredesen said the latest version of the so-called "guns-in-bars" bill is an "even more expansive and dangerous form" than the "reckless" version he vetoed a year ago.

Lawmakers easily overrode last year's veto. But a judge later overturned the 2009 law, calling it unconstitutionally vague because it allowed guns in establishments meeting certain food service requirements that permit holders could not reasonably be expected to determine.

That led to this year's bill. It lets permit holders go armed in any establishment selling alcohol for on-premises consumption provided they do not drink and the establishment does not post signs banning guns.

Sponsors of this year's bill voiced confidence they have the votes to override Gov. Bredesen yet again.

"Tennessee is a 'weak governor' state. It only requires a simple majority of each house to repass the legislation," said Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, who noted the bill this year again passed by "super majorities."

Lawmakers are "simply trying to give Tennesseans the same rights under the Second Amendment that have been given to millions of citizens across the country," he said. "I am disappointed that the governor fell victim to emotional appeals that obscured the facts involved in this issue."

House sponsor Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, criticized the governor for not communicating with lawmakers about problems.

"It's just another example of the governor vetoing a bill and never getting involved in or having any suggestions in regards to what should or shouldn't be in it," Rep. Todd said. "I plan to override him again, next week. No question that (the override) will happen again."

Overriding the veto requires 17 votes in the Senate and 50 votes in the House. The bill passed the Senate on a 23-9 vote, and House members approved it 66-31.

While the governor's veto letter to House Speaker Kent Williams, an Elizabethton Democrat, and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, was dated Tuesday, Gov. Bredesen is currently visiting China.

Asked if Democrat Bredesen faxed his veto letter from China to Tennessee, gubernatorial spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said via e-mail the governor "signed the veto letter before his departure. As he prefers to take the full time allotted to him to consider a bill, the veto was issued today, the due date of the bill."

Governors have 10 days, excluding Sundays, to decide whether to sign, veto or allow a bill to become law without their signature.

In his veto message, Gov. Bredesen repeated his statements, first voiced last year, that he was taught in a National Rifle Association-sponsored gun-safety class a half century ago that "guns and alcohol don't mix."

He said the "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 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. That includes the Tennessee Aquarium and the Hunter Museum of American Art. Spokespersons at both institutions say signs have already been posted banning guns.

Senate Speaker Ramsey, whose office carries the title of lieutenant governor, said in a statement that the governor's veto is no surprise.

"I am confident we will override his veto, just as we did last year," he said.

The Tennessee Firearms Association's Legislative Action Committee said in an e-mail that "as expected, Gov. Bredesen has vetoed HB3125/SB3012 proclaiming once again that guns and alcohol do not mix. Apparently, like our U.S. Attorney General commenting on Arizona's law recently, he did not read the bill."

The gun-rights group said 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, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Tahuaya said...

I'm sure this will help Tennessee tourism. You should not drive a car under the influence of alcohol and should not mix alcohol with guns either. Does anyone really thing that someone would go into a bar with a gun and sit there drinking ginger ale? I don't

May 19, 2010 at 5:24 a.m.
FreedomLover said...

I am a 100% Red Blooded American and believe in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights but to alow anyone the Legal right to have a gun in a bar or anyplace that serves alcohol is just plain STUPID, you don't put a gun in someones hand blown out of their mind and to try and justify it by saying it is ok if they don't drink is INSANE.

I have a son who is an alcoholic and he as any alcoholic is going to drink no matter what the consequence, GUNS IN ANY ESTABLISHMENT THAT SERVES ALCOHOL IS A RECIPE FOR DESASTER.

May 19, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.

I hope and pray that this silly veto is quickly over turned. All the fear, all the wild west tales are nothing but uneducated fear. If a person is legal to carry a concealed weapon and wants to dine out at a resturant like Olive Garden, O'Charlies, Logans Roadhouse, or any other place that serves food and alcohol, why does paranoia take over and eveyone screams that the gun owner is there to get drunk and then spray the resturant with bullets? You are far safer with the legally armed patron than the illegally armed and carrying thugs in your local parks and greenways.

May 19, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.
Sailorman said...

unscathed said

I hope and pray that this silly veto is quickly over turned. All the fear, all the wild west tales are nothing but uneducated fear.

I'm with you. Some of these poor folks are just stuck on stupid. Or maybe they're just really gullible.

May 19, 2010 at 1:49 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I agree, I mean I know every time that I am in a bar and a gun fight breaks out it isn't the gun permit holders that are shooting. But I still don't understand why are these permit holders wanting to go in to a bar that they are afraid of going in to without a gun and then not drink anything? What is the point of that? Is it just the point of saying that you can, or what?

May 19, 2010 at 6:59 p.m.
Sailorman said...


Try to have at least some notion of the topic that's rooted in reality. "Guns in bars" is the scary term the anti-gun ilk uses to agitate people like you. It's kind of like calling rifles "assault weapons" because they have a certain appearance. Red Lobster is hardly a "bar" or Chili's or Olive Garden. Get the picture?

May 19, 2010 at 7:06 p.m.
Humphrey said...

Yes, I know how scary it can be to go to Red Lobster or Chilis or Olive Garden without a gun. Bless their hearts, I am glad that the hand gun permit owners will now be able to work up the courage to go get an endless salad bowl for lunch.

Here's the thing, every time I see one of these stories you are on there saying "it isn't really bars, it is restaurants." You are right in that it does include those chain restaurants like you mentioned that serve drinks. But it is ALSO bars. Those places that serve alcohol but not food. Those places you have to be over 21 to go in to. The places where smoking is allowed. Those places are called "bars." That's not trying to use a scary term, that is calling it what it is. It is a law to allow people to take guns in to BARS. That's what it is. Read the article right up there, it says "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."

I'm sorry you don't think it is "rooted in reality" to call a bar a "bar," but dang, I'm thinking maybe I'm not the one with the reality problem.

May 19, 2010 at 7:27 p.m.
Sailorman said...

yeah well you believe whatever you like. "courage to get an endless salad bowl" LOL that's a good one.

Sounds to me like you're the one suffering irrational fears. Bless your heart.

May 19, 2010 at 7:33 p.m.
dolt said...

It actually was a funny comment, and very true. "I know how scary it can be to go into Red Lobster without a gun" LOL

And it ought to be the same way with going into bars. Unless you're some ass who everyone has problems with, most people won't mess with you. Furthermore, having a gun in an agressive setting such as a bar could possibly make you feel bigger than you really are and could put you in a bad position.

May 19, 2010 at 9:07 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Protecting the world is a noble gesture, but the fact is if your the last to draw there is a very good chance you will not live to have the chance. When was the last gun fight at the OK Red Lobster, Logans Road House, O'Charlies, Olive Garden, Golden Corral. At High Noon???

May 19, 2010 at 9:24 p.m.
Sailorman said...

You assume much whatsthefuss. Nobody I know has any interest in "protecting the world" as you put it.

doit - project much?

May 19, 2010 at 10:06 p.m.
ihwarrior said...

Again we are faced with the argument about "need". If a woman wears a mini skirt she deserves to be raped, if a wife back talks she deserves to be beaten, if a person "needs a gun" they deserve trouble. All are illogical and flawed. Check your with your local law enforcement official, violent crime happens in random places to all kinds of people. I read in this paper a few days ago(i forget the exact issue)how proud our sherriff was about his 50something% crime solving rate and his admission that there is little the police can do to PREVENT violent crime. Those with the mind set that they will never be the target of violence should never carry a firearm, that is your option. You exercise you option I will exercise my right.

May 19, 2010 at 10:51 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.