Senate committee passes new guns-in-bars bill

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 4:59pm

The new version of Tennessee’s overturned guns-in-bars law advanced in the Senate Tuesday over the objections of the state’s hotel and restaurant industry.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to send the bill to the full Senate for almost certain passage as early as this week. The House Finance Committee wrangled over the companion bill for 90 minutes later in the day, beating back a flurry of Democratic amendments, then adjourned until next week.

"My idea was when a child was born they get their birth certificate, that at that time we also give them a gun permit certificate. Guns at birth is what I was looking at," Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said apparently in jest at one point in the debate.

One defeated House amendment would have let cities and counties decide whether to allow guns in bars.

“What would be wrong with each individual community deciding this?” Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville, asked the sponsor, Rep. Curry Todd, R-Memphis. “If the city of Nashville doesn’t want this, you think it’s the state of Tennessee’s right to tell them they have to have it?”

Todd replied: “I think it’s another way to try to limit and kill this bill, allowing local governments to pre-empt state statute. Everyone in the state of Tennessee should have the right to carry.” 

Last year’s law let state-licensed handgun carriers go armed into restaurants that serve alcohol as long as their “principle business is the service of food.” That was an attempt to keep armed citizens out of roadhouses, nightclubs and honky-tonks. But Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman struck down that law last year as unconstitutionally vague because it was difficult to tell where guns were legal and where they weren’t.

This year’s legislation tries to solve that problem by allowing the state’s 270,000 handgun permit holders to take their weapons into any establishment that serves alcohol.

“We’ve gone from a modest number of places, which may have been a thousand to 1,200 places, to some unknown number of places, mostly because nobody knows how many places are licensed in the state to serve beer for consumption on the premises. This is a lot bigger bill than anything you’ve seen in the past,” said Nashville lawyer Dan Haskell, representing the Tennessee Hospitality Association and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

Those organizations oppose guns in bars because they say it will hurt tourism and endanger employees.

In other state legislative news: 

* A bill purporting to nullify national health care reform in Tennessee cleared the House Commerce Committee despite the state attorney general’s opinion that it’s probably unconstitutional.

The committee voted 19-11 for the so-called Health Freedom Act, which the Senate already has adopted. The bill would give all Tennesseans the right to disobey the national law’s mandate to buy health insurance.

“That’s what this bill is about — it’s about freedom. It’s about giving people choice,” said the sponsor, Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.

But in an advisory opinion, state Attorney General Bob Cooper already has stated bill likely won’t stand up in court because federal laws supersede those of the states.

* State Republican Party chairman Chris Devaney attacked state House Democrats for voting against a resolution urging Congress not to do what it already has done — enact national health care reform.

"These Democrats have been exposed," Devaney said in a press release. "This vote proves they favor a trillion-dollar government takeover of our health care system and don't seem to care that the majority of Tennesseans don't support it. They've deserted their constituents and put partisan politics ahead of the welfare of this state."

Twenty-nine Democrats voted against Rep. Susan Lynn's resolution Monday night.

* A House committee held a hearing on legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said she would ask the committee next week to send her bill to the state Board of Pharmacy for a year of study. "We're moving the ball forward," she said.

Under her legislation, the state would license farmers to grow cannabis at tightly restricted compounds, then sell prescribed doses through pharmacies to alleviate the pain and suffering of the sick and dying. Tennessee would join 14 other state-run medical-marijuana programs either under way or in development in this country.

"Cheech and Chong smoking a bong — that is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about compassion," Richardson told the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

28 Comments on this post:

By: xhexx on 4/13/10 at 4:25

The anti's need to stop their whining about how this bill is worse than the last one. They should have left well enough alone. Did they really think we'd just shrug our shoulders and forget about it after Bonneyman's decision?

There is NOTHING vague about this one. Including the wording of the sign to opt out. Rayburn can take his cutesy "No Guns- Ever, Free Parking- Always" sign and shove it. If he wants to post his dumps, he'll have to use the same state mandated language sign as everyone else.

By: free thinker on 4/14/10 at 6:39

Yep, sure can tell this is an election year. Guns in the hands of a drunk, legislating disobedience of federal law. They sure must be really hard up for votes. The legislature doesn't tackle problems that ail this state. Lobbyists have bought out the stupidest batch of people produced anywhere in the known world.

By: BEOWULF on 4/14/10 at 7:42

BEOWULF: Bad guys HAVE ALWAYS and WILL ALWAYS have guns. Permit to carry citizens are carefully screened, responsible. Before you "poo-poo" this comment, type in "restaurant shootings" into your browser, read, and ask yourself, "How many lives might have been saved if a couple of permit to carry citizens had been present at these restaurants? ' "35 dead...including small children shot at point blank range" ' is not a pleasant read!

By: EquinsuOcha on 4/14/10 at 7:58

If law makers do what people want then they will get their vote........this should be done every year not just election years

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 8:20

People who legally carry are the most law-abiding citizens you will ever know. I know several who legally carry and they would never hurt anyone unless the worst scenario presented itself. But, as Beowulf suggests, if it does they could save lives!

Free Thinker is just part of a minority liberal crowd who wants no citizens to own guns (except criminals of course). FT should know that the 2nd amendment has not been revoked and is still part of our Bill of Rights!

Semper Fi!

By: gdiafante on 4/14/10 at 8:35

Wrong vechester. I don't worry about the majority of law-abiding gun owners. They have enough sense to keep their guns at home, locked up. No, I worry about the idiot gun owner, like the moron that left a loaded gun on a coffee table for his daughter to find and shoot herself. They are the ones who always get someone hurt.

I'd still like to know about all these "dangerous" restaurants where people feel so insecure that they have to carry a weapon. If I didn't feel it safe for me or my family, I just don't go there.

Vechester, you a Marine? Semper Fi, brother.

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 8:45

Gdia, yes uhrah!

Registered gun owners have passed a gun safety course and wouldn't leave a loaded weapon accessible to children. My bet is that the offender you mentioned had no training.

As for keeping our guns at home, what about those of us who need to take deposits to the bank, or worse yet to a drop box after bank hours in the dark. You bet I will carry in this case. And there are too many other cases where one just feels safer to do so. There is NO PLACE where one is safe from a possible shooting.

Sorry to disagree, but I must.

By: Kosh III on 4/14/10 at 8:47

"I'd still like to know about all these "dangerous" restaurants where people feel so insecure that they have to carry a weapon."

Yes, a good question, please enlighten us.

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 8:51

Here you go. It's long but factual:

On October 16, 1991, Hennard drove his 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of a Luby's Cafeteria at 1705 East Central Texas Expressway in Killeen, yelled "This is what Bell County has done to me!", then opened fire on the restaurant's patrons and staff with a Glock 17 pistol and later a Ruger P89. He stalked, shot, and killed 23 people while wounding another 20 before committing suicide. About 80 people were in the restaurant at the time. The first victim was local veterinarian Dr. Michael Griffith, who ran up to the driver's side of the pickup truck to offer assistance after the truck came through the window. During the shooting, Hennard approached Suzanna Gratia Hupp and her parents. Hupp had actually brought a handgun to the Luby's Cafeteria that day but had left it in her vehicle because laws in force at the time forbade citizens from carrying firearms. According to her later testimony in favor of Missouri's HB-1720 bill and in general, after she realized that her firearm was not in her purse but "a hundred feet away in [her] car," her father charged at Hennard in an attempt to subdue him but was gunned down; a short time later, Hupp's mother was also shot and killed. Hupp later expressed regret for abiding by the law in question by leaving her firearm in her car rather than keeping it on her person. One patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a plate-glass window to allow others to escape. Hennard allowed a mother and her four-year-old child to leave. He reloaded several times and still had ammunition remaining when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after being cornered and wounded by police.

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 8:54

Any other questions?

By: gdiafante on 4/14/10 at 9:01

Ok, that's one, from twenty years can also list a McDonalds and a few other ones. But that doesn't illustrate any threat on a conistent basis. In fact, given the number of restaurants in this country, the number of time someone "opens up" is miniscule.

It's the exception rather than the rule.

So I would bet that this really doesn't have anything to do with a legitimate threat, but the perceived threat that someone is trying to take your guns away, which I don't believe will ever happen.

And if this is because so many feel unsafe without the ability to carry their weapon, what about the people who now feel unsafe because you are allowed?

By: GUARDIAN on 4/14/10 at 9:09

"Those organizations oppose guns in bars because they say it will hurt tourism and endanger employees." LOL here's your sign. Please wear it. Many states have this same law and it hasn't hurt them. “When a child is born, we give them a birth certificate,” Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said in frustration at one point in the debate. “Why not give them a gun permit too? Guns at birth.” LOL here's your sign JimmyBOY. It called the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights and please read it. Please be sure to wear your sign because you need it bad. “What would be wrong with each individual community deciding this?” Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville, asked the sponsor, Rep. Curry Todd, R-Memphis. “If the city of Nashville doesn’t want this, you think it’s the state of Tennessee’s right to tell them they have to have it?” LOL here's your sign MikeyBoy. Let the business post it's sign DUMMY. The reason many Progressive owned businesses don't want to have to post the sign is it will hurt their business because there's lots more supporters of carry permits than those that don't. I know one business that was about to close because they lost their customers after posting the "no guns for permit holders". Let the people make the choice on this. Democrats - liberals - progressives - socialist - communist - marxist are all the same pea in the same pod. All the real party of Jackson ( A.K.A. Democrats with a brain who love America and what she has always stood for) have left the party within the last 4 presidential elections. They are now independents and tea party members. As far as Obozocare goes the people didn't want it so let Tennessee stand up with other sates in saying "OH NO YOU DON'T". I'm sure Andrew Jackson is looking down from heaven with a tears in his eyes at what his old party is doing to America.

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 9:14

So when will the next "miniscule" threat happen? Just curious because my crystal ball is on the blink the week. If you can pass that on to me I'll make sure the proper authorities are notified. And please name an account where someone (not a criminal) was "endangered" by a legal gun owner while in a public place. Maybe there is a "miniscule" account of one but I can't seem to find one. I'm just asking...

By: gdiafante on 4/14/10 at 9:16

I had no idea that Bill Engvall posted here. Shouldn't you be on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour?

Loved you else have you done?

By: gdiafante on 4/14/10 at 9:19

No, apparently your crystal ball is not on the blink, you seem to know that these massacres are about to happen any minute. There's also a chance of rain every day, do you intend to wear a raincoat to dinner as well?

By: vechester on 4/14/10 at 9:37

Funny, I like him.

But seriously please tell me when should I be prepared and when do I not need to worry about it??? All my police friends tell me to carry!

By: pswindle on 4/14/10 at 9:47

If this what happens when the GOP has control, it is time to take it away from them.
We need to bring sanity back to our state.

By: wasaw on 4/14/10 at 10:05

Isn't it a great day to wake up and learn that your elected officials are actually working for you? Democrat legislators seem to shy away from acts that are good for the electorate; they tend to gravitate towards legislation that lengthens their terms in office.

Now how about Randy Rayburn? He thinks his rights are far greater than his customers, or less say his former customers. Lets reward Mr. Rayburn's actions against this legislation by putting him out of business. If he doesn't wish to support our right to bear arms, in this lawless society, why should we support him and his restaurants. There are many GOOD "rights protecting" restaurant owners in Nashville who will appreciate my business.

I meet with ten to fifteen retirees every Thursday for lunch, at a different restaurant each week. Guess where we won't be eating on Thursdays? Mr. Rayburn, there is a price to be paid for fighting against honest legislation. You might want to start looking for another form of business to peddle your left-wing ideology. Do you think Randy has a weapon nearby , on his office, when he's counting the day's receipts?
I know first hand he does, but like all left-wingers, "what's fair for the goose is not always fair for the gander. "

By: localboy on 4/14/10 at 10:21

"Free Thinker is just part of a minority liberal crowd who wants no citizens to own guns (except criminals of course). " Did FT post that somewhere, or is it just an assumption?
I grew up with guns, and I appreciate how some may work or play in areas where the need for a legal carry seems appropriate; I just don't have that problem at present. It sounds reasonable to allow a local option approach.

By: GUARDIAN on 4/14/10 at 10:28

Since I'm not from Nashville but do travel there often and always pick a nice place to go eat do tell me. What restaurant does Randy Rayburn, supporter of the socialist way of life and follower of "THE GREAT RENEGER" OBOZO, own. I don't ever want to go there and need to tell all my friends not to go there.

By: DDG on 4/14/10 at 10:38

George Washington didn't talk the British into leaving us alone, he shot them.

By: pswindle on 4/14/10 at 10:42

Bang1 Bang! Bang! Oh, I'm sory did I shoot someone.? Drunks are crazy enough without putting guns in their hands. TN, we have done well all these years without taking guns to places where theri are children or drunks.

By: free thinker on 4/14/10 at 10:54

Hey localboy,
Don't accuse me of being a liberal because I voice an opinion. Politicians don't lift a finger until it's time to vote and they are playing every option. The fact is, pols are not working at solving any problems in this state.

By: AmyLiorate on 4/14/10 at 1:01

Kosh, I'm curious why so many people feel that they can't trust people who've gone out of their way to get a HCP. People who have a great record for remaining responsible for as long as the permits have been in place.

Why do people have the default mindset of limiting other people instead of supporting their right to choose, or choose not, to allow HCP in their establishments?

By: AmyLiorate on 4/14/10 at 1:44

@ Guardian - it's Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe, Cabana

You know they have wine tastings there and such. It's so very likely that any moment someone will go from a magnum of Merlot to a magnum of .45 caliber!

Why can't he just post a little sign saying no weapons and stop enforcing his opinion on the owners of all other restaurants?

By: Cookie47 on 4/15/10 at 3:35


With Rayburn, it's all about the bottom line. Since he derives a large portion of his profit from the sale of alcohol and HCP holders can't drink while carrying, he doesn't want us in his restaurants while armed. That's fine with me. I went to Sunset Grill once and that was enough. You can easily get the same thing at Applebee's or O'Charley's without the sorry attitude of the wait staff and at a better price.

If anyone believes this guy cares about the people of Nashville or Tennessee, I have some oceanfront property in Chattanooga I'd like to sell.

It's all about the money - period.


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