Attorney general to appeal guns in bars decision

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 5:20pm

State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper's office Tuesday afternoon submitted a notice it planned to appeal a judge's Nov. 20 decision that struck down the controversial guns-in-bars law due to vagueness.

The law, championed by state Sen. Doug Jackson and passed in the legislature despite a veto from Gov. Phil Bredesen, made it legal for handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol unless the establishment had posted a ban on carrying.

In her November decision, Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman said the law was unconstitutional because permit holders could not determine whether or not they were in violation of the statute due to the state law that offers an obscure and fluctuating definition of bars and restaurants.

“The principle business being conducted cannot be known to the ordinary citizen,” Bonnyman said at the time. “Inquiry would not be satisfactory or helpful.”

The suit was brought against the state by a group of restaurant employees, including Sunset Grill owner Randy Rayburn. Since the ruling, Jackson has indicated he's working on new legislation.

The attorney general’s office said they filed the notice of appeal because the office “believes that the statute is legally defensible.”

“While the legislature may take action in the future that will moot the appeal, it is this office’s responsibility to defend the laws that are currently in place,” the AG’s office said in a written statement.

“We would have the right as well to raise the issues that the court decided in their favor,” said the plaintiff's attorney David Randolph Smith, referring to Bonnyman's ruling against the plaintiff's claim the law was a violation of workplace safety laws and represented unconstitutional delegation of legislative and police power.

11 Comments on this post:

By: HCPforme on 12/22/09 at 7:58

“The principle business being conducted cannot be known to the ordinary citizen,” Bonnyman said at the time. “Inquiry would not be satisfactory or helpful.”

In the above statement, Judge Bonnyman is saying that business owners cannot be relied upon to KNOW what their principle business is. How would knowing what the principal business being conducted NOT be helpful? How completely absurd.

By: NGNG34 on 12/23/09 at 6:34


Oh, wait. That never happened. That was merely the incorrect prediction of the anti-gun alarmists who oppose our Second Amendment rights and attempt to sway public opinion by creating irrational fear and panic. Never mind. Sorry.

By: The Commander on 12/23/09 at 10:02

Hey Punk- NGNG34.
Tom Humphreys of the Knoxville News Sentinel revealed late this summer that his research showed 3 (three) shootings by TN. permit carriers in restaurants in 2009 - there are by statute no bars in TN., prior to the law going into effect. It's called Google if you want to look it up. It will be really tough to uncover permit carriers breaking the law when you try again to change the law to make the records secret next session. The truth shall set you free- Kid!
By the way. Wait until your buddies in the legislature who took all of Chis Cox's NRA money and from John Harris' TFA friends( all 400 of them), in campaign contributions, learn that the MTSU polling numbers were really conservative in measuring real Tennesseans opinions on firearms in parks and Restaurants/ Bars being foolish and 'bearing' no common sense. Please stand bye...
As to your 2nd amendment rights - please read conservative diva Antonin Scalia's full US Supreme court opinion in Heller vs DC as to your limited rights in sensitive area as defined by his definition. Your home you are OK. Other places - limited. Have your attorney friend explain it to you as it is in English.

By: trtay2004 on 12/23/09 at 10:07

Why are they still pursuing this if 80% of Tennesseans (even permit holders) do not want guns in bars? Why? Because the legislators get huge money from lobbyist. Lobbyist should become a banned profession more than prostitution in my opinion. It just proves that money buys politicians.

By: HCPforme on 12/23/09 at 1:51

Hey Commander,

Please list the 3 shootings IN RESTAURANTS you claim were committed by permit holders in 2009. I believe you are misinformed.

I did find two murders committed by LEO's in Memphis in 2008. I guess we need to take guns away from police and sheriffs deputies.

Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Jones - shot a man over a parking space. Sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Memphis Police Office Chancy Jones - shot his girlfriend dead, admitted it, and is OUT OF JAIL on bond.

By: gerebear on 12/23/09 at 2:16

Hey Commander,
At your suggestion I Googled Bar Shootings in Tennessee and found No case of HCP holders involved. Also, incidents that happened were at BARS- not restaruants that happen to serve alcoholic beverages like Appleby's and others to numerous to mention. Guns are still not permitted in BARS, so get your facts straight. The items I read were robberies or disgrunteled customers that were not handgun permit holders. So supply facts and give me incidents of HCP involved-you can't stupid!!!

By: The Commander on 12/23/09 at 9:07

Posted by Tom Humphrey on July 21, 2009. blogs
Humphrey on the Hill - Read it and weep A..H...!

By: gerebear on 12/23/09 at 10:10

Let see:

HCPforforme correctly identified 2 of your 3 incidents and the third, reported by Tom Humphrey was a shooting death in April. Very little related to guns in restrauants. Also, three incidents of HCP holders for 2009. We have that many non HCP killings in a week in Nashville. I would not be worried about a HCP shooting me, since it is a very rare thing.

By: HCPforme on 12/24/09 at 6:56

Commander - you have a problem with comprehension. You claim that there were 3 shootings in restaurants involving TN permit holders in 2009. I will quote the blog you are apparently referring to which studied permit holder incidents in a 2 year period for the entire nation:

"The report details 31 incidents that occurred in 15 states, including one in Tennessee: the shooting death of Robert 'Dutch' Schwerin Jr. outside a Cordova restaurant in February. Harry Ray Coleman has pleaded innocent of second-degree murder.

But, reporter Rick Locker relates, the center's researchers failed to turn up three other shooting deaths in Shelby County this year that police said were committed by men with Tennessee handgun-carry permits: the Feb. 23 slaying of Terrelle Beasley after a minor traffic wreck in Memphis, the March 8 shooting death of part-time model Lisa Davis, and the April 30 shooting death of Micah Pate."

NONE of the shootings by permit carriers were IN A RESTAURANT. The only shooting in a restaurant was by a Shelby county deputy in 2008.

The so called study was done by the Violence Policy Center using media accounts not government records. During the same period of time, it was found permit holders were 15 times LESS LIKELY to commit murder than non-permit holders.

By: gerebear on 12/24/09 at 8:22

You will get no response from The Commander as he spouts anti-gun agenda and presents misleading information. He can best be described as an dangerous fool and idiot. HCP holdesr are about as close to a zero problem that you can get. We really need to worry about judges and the criminal justice system releasing career criminals early that seem to want to go out and kill. Wonder what Commander thinks about that fact.

By: slzy on 12/24/09 at 6:04

as the 2nd amendment is still in place,and the tennessee constitution acknowledges the right to self defense,and each shooting will be reviewed and determined to be justifiable or not,and criminals are more likely to leave the scene of a crime,whereas someone who has shot someone and feels it was justifiable will hang around,why is all this wrangling going on?