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Gov. Bredesen vetoes guns in bars bill

Gov. Bredesen vetoes guns in bars bill

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009 9:25 pm


Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Phil Bredesen on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have allowed Tennessee handgun permit holders to take their weapons into establishments that serve alcohol.

He made the announcement at a late afternoon news conference where he was joined by police chiefs and district attorneys from around the state.

“Tennessee state law has long prohibited the possession of firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol,” Bredesen said. “House Bill 962 would remove this protection in a manner that I, along with many law enforcement officers, believe to be reckless and lacking basic safeguards to ensure public safety. I respectfully ask the Legislature to rethink this issue.”

The measure passed the state House 66-23 and Senate 24-7 earlier this month. A simple majority is required in each chamber to override a veto.

Lawmakers agreed to leave out provisions that would impose an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for carrying handguns where alcohol is served and keep a handgun ban in place for bars that restrict entry to people over 21 years old.

But they retained an existing ban on consuming alcohol while carrying a handgun.

“The notion that this bill would permit one to carry a concealed weapon into a crowded bar at midnight on a Saturday night defies common sense, and I cannot sign such a measure into law,” the governor said.

Democratic Sen. Doug Jackson of Dickson, the bill’s primary sponsor in the Senate, said he will consider the governor’s reasons for vetoing the measure then determine how to proceed.

He said he understands “dealing with firearms is a divisive issue, but the Supreme Court has made clear this is a Second Amendment right.”

“Given the record of similar laws in other states, millions of citizens around the country have the same right we want to give Tennesseans, and that right has not been abused. … to that extent, the bill does not seem to be unreasonable,” he said.

House sponsor Curry Todd said he will attempt to override the veto.

“This bill passed by two-thirds in both bodies, indicating that there is strong support for this measure,” said the Collierville Republican.

Currently, 37 other states allow people to carry their guns into bars.

Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas called the legislation a “major public policy” issue that is not substantiated with research to support its necessity.

“If this public policy question needed to be answered, why wasn’t there a tremendous amount of research put into to it to demonstrate that we need to change our public policy,” Serpas said. “Nothing like that happened. This debate is being driven by emotion and … not driven by facts or circumstance.”

However, Jackson said the “law abiding citizen has the right to self-defense.”

“I think Ronal Serpas would prefer that if a citizen was confronted with a crime of violence they would respond with a cell phone and a prayer,” Jackson said.

As for other gun-related legislation headed his way, such as allowing handgun-carry permit holders to bring their weapons into state and local parks, Bredesen said he will once again consult with law enforcement and other officials before making a decision on whether to veto.


Read HB0962 at:


Associated Press Writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report.

Published in The Messenger 5.29.09


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