Legislature conference committee approves 'guns in bars' bill

Legislature conference committee approves 'guns in bars' bill

May 4th, 2009 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE - Handgun-carry permit holders will be able to bring their loaded firearms into bars, nightclubs and "honky tonks" under a conference committee report approved this afternoon by a majority of House and Senate conferees.

House conference committee members voted 3-2 to ignore the House-passed bill and accept the Senate-passed version. Senate conference committee members voted 4-0 to stick with their bill.

As a result, the House conferees will recommend to the full House that members abandon a provision in their bill that provides a curfew banning permit holders from going armed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. in establishments selling alcohol.

The majority recommendation also will be to eliminate a House provision banning permit holders from bringing their weapons into age-restricted venues.

Both were an effort to keep the bill from becoming a guns-in-bars measure.

Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, who wound up voting against the conference committee report, suggested colleagues were being hypocritical.

They have "complained so many times about federal mandates imposed on us at the state level, and here we've got a bill that pre-empts local government from saying we don't want it," he said.

"Booze and guns" do not mix, he said.

Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, and Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, the Senate and House sponsors of the bill, said the bill still would not allow permit holders to drink while carrying a gun.

They also said establishments could post signs banning permit holders from carrying their guns into their venues.