House bill would ban guns from bars
Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:02 pm
By: NASHVILLE, AP
NASHVILLE (AP) — Handgun permit holders would not be able to carry weapons into establishments that predominantly serve alcohol under a proposal that passed a key legislative committee on Tuesday and is headed for a full House vote.
The proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville was approved 20-6 by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday and will now be scheduled for a vote on the House floor. The companion bill is also awaiting a Senate floor vote.
Todd’s original proposal sought to allow handgun owners to carry weapons where alcoholic beverages are served unless posted otherwise.
But the measure was amended to require establishments whose food sales are less than 50 percent to prohibit guns. Other establishments that predominantly serve food could still “choose to prohibit guns in their establishments.”
Nashville Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled in November that the law was “fraught with ambiguity.” The previous law sought to exclude establishments that predominantly serve alcohol, but Tennessee makes no legal distinction between bars and restaurants.
“We’ve made the posting language more clear,” said Rep. Harry Tindell, a Knoxville Democrat and sponsor of the amendment.
Several other attempts to amend the bill were defeated, including a measure that would have increased the penalty for consuming alcohol while carrying a weapon in such establishments.
“We need to send a message,” said House Minority Leader Gary Odom, a Nashville Democrat and sponsor of that amendment.
Last year’s law was opposed by the state’s police chiefs, sheriffs and the restaurant industry. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen vetoed the bill, but both chambers easily voted for an override.
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 to keep a handgun ban in place for bars that restrict entry to people over 21 years old.
Published in Messenger 4.21.10