Poll: Tennesseans against guns in bars and parks

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 12:01pm

Most Tennesseans oppose letting the state’s licensed handgun carriers take their weapons into public parks and restaurants, and 80 percent are against guns in bars, according to a new poll by Middle Tennessee State University.

The findings are surprising after a legislative session dominated by the gun lobby, with big majorities enacting new laws this year to allow loaded weapons into public parks and restaurants that serve alcohol.

The poll released Wednesday showed 54 percent of state residents oppose allowing permit holders to carry handguns in parks; 60 percent in restaurants; and 80 percent in bars.

"Opposition to lawfully carrying handguns in bars is especially high, not only among all Tennesseans but also in households that include a handgun owner and even in households that include a handgun carry permit holder," said Dr. Jason Reineke, assistant professor of journalism and associate director of the poll.

The poll found that only about a quarter of those who have a handgun in their household favor allowing handguns to be carried in bars, Reineke said. And the percentage is about the same among those from households in which at least one person has a state handgun carry permit, he said.

Here are more poll results:

* Asked whether they personally plan to get inoculated against swine flu, 38 percent of Tennesseans - about two in five - answered yes. A 52 percent majority say they do not plan to be inoculated, and the rest aren't sure or decline to answer.

"Polls around the country are registering concern about the vaccine, even though experts say it is perfectly safe," said Dr. Ken Blake, associate professor of journalism at MTSU and director of the poll. "Those concerns have shown up in our poll, too."

The poll also shows that only about half of Tennesseans think the government will be able to ward off a nationwide swine flu epidemic.

"Tennesseans may be leery of the vaccine, but they do seem concerned about the possibility of a major outbreak," Blake said. "That suggests the situation could change rapidly. If, for example, swine flu cases spike upward or appear increasingly dangerous, demand for the vaccine could rise."

* Tennesseans agree on little about health-care reform than its importance. While about two-thirds of state residents consider health reform either very or extremely important, only 36 percent generally support the proposals that have been discussed in Congress so far, 46 percent oppose them, and a sizable 17 percent are unsure.

* President Obama's approval rating among Tennesseans has declined sharply since the spring. Only 46 percent of Tennesseans currently approve of the way Obama is handling his job, with 48 percent saying that they disapprove. In this past spring's poll, 53 percent of Tennesseans approved of Obama, and only 27 percent disapproved.

* Tennesseans seem largely indifferent to the drama Tuesday's special election produced over which party will gain the upper hand in Tennessee's state House of Representatives. Asked which party should control the Legislature, 31 percent say the Democrats, 33 percent say the Republicans, and 35 percent say they don't know.

* Indecision is even higher regarding the governor's race, despite the candidates already campaigning to replace Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. Twenty-five percent say they want a Democratic governor, but another 22 percent want a Republican governor, and a 51 percent majority say they have no preference right now. The rest give no answer.

* Seventy-one percent of Tennesseans say that the recession has hurt them financially, up from spring's 66 percent. But worry about the future economy has decreased to 33 percent from spring's 43 percent. These and other economic indicators in the poll suggest a cautious optimism among Tennesseans that the recession is abating.

10 Comments on this post:

By: HCPforme on 10/14/09 at 10:47

MTSU should explain how If only 5% of Tennesseans have gun carry permits how did 23% of their respondents answer affirmatively that they or someone in the house have a permit? If you doubled the 5% number to cover for 1 spouse answering for another, you still would be way off. On the other hand, if a couple BOTH had a permit, that is still counted as 1 affirmative response. So just how random could the sample be?

By: localboy on 10/14/09 at 11:34

methinks their random sample came from the universe gathered at the student center...

By: idgaf on 10/15/09 at 4:33

I wouldn't trust anything MTSU says. They say what the powers to be want them to say. They have zero credibility and aren't even doing a good job educating their students.

We need to get rid of most state schools teaching only what we need and others are not providing such as teachers and medical personel.

By: Kosh III on 10/15/09 at 5:54


Please only use private roads, private police and fire servicse and don't use anything else the government is involved in. Why do you hate "we the people?"

By: govskeptic on 10/15/09 at 6:56

"We the people" has been replaced for several yrs.
now by "We the media" and "We the lobbyist". There
are several points in this survey that are very suspect!

By: madden on 10/15/09 at 7:58

I guess if the poll suggested that most Tennesseans were for guns in bars, then it would have been credible? We should also allow guns in churches, Courts (especially divorce courts, courts dealing with domestic abuse, and all criminal courts), and allow visitors to correction facilities to have guns with them. The right to have weapons in these places are protected by the Constitution, correct?

By: pandabear on 10/15/09 at 12:32

" By: madden on 10/15/09 at 8:58

I guess if the poll suggested that most Tennesseans were for guns in bars, then it would have been credible? We should also allow guns in churches, Courts (especially divorce courts, courts dealing with domestic abuse, and all criminal courts), and allow visitors to correction facilities to have guns with them. The right to have weapons in these places are protected by the Constitution, correct? "

Are lawyers covered under this protection too ?

See, I think that's where we started to go wrong in the first place...

By: sidneyames on 10/15/09 at 12:35

Has anyone ever noticed signs in businesses that say "No cash in cash register" or "attendent does not have key to safe" or so on? Well, my thoughts are "the robbers probably don't read or can't read those signs" and robberies get committed ANY WAY! So guns in businesses!!!! Hmmmmm! Criminals don't obey those laws, but I guess law abiding citizens with legal permits have to. Sounds unreasonable to me.

By: govskeptic on 10/15/09 at 3:06

I get the feeling Madden is in the undecided as to the
2nd amendment. The story is not about guns in prisons,
courts, or legal proceedings. Parks are a little different
than the previous!

By: Time for Truth on 10/16/09 at 8:05

I couldn't find a clear explanation of who is in the polling sample but the results don't seem that far off, especially if the poll was conducted in a large college town. If 23 percent of the people are permit holders then you would expect the results to be gun-friendly. But I imagine that with the gun lobby and the Yeehaw mentality of the new Republican leadership in play within the Capitol building, the new carry laws were alot more popular with legislators than with the rest of us.

The wide disparity between guns in bars and in parks is no surprise either. I have no problem whatsoever with guns carried by permit holders in parks. Allowing guns in bars is the height of gun nut wild west stupidity and the arguments for it will look even more stupid when the first innocent bystander is killed.

id, I don't understand your problem with state universities as they make a college education affordable for many. Judging by your consisitent grammatical malaprops and mispellings I'm guessing you haven't ever availed yourself of that opportunity.