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VOL. 123 | NO. 12 | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Senate Approves Bill Allowing Guns Where Alcohol Served

By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press Writer

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee is a step closer to joining more than 30 other states that allow individuals with handgun permits to carry the weapon in establishments that serve alcohol.

The measure sponsored by Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, passed the Senate 24-6 on Wednesday. The House bill remains in a subcommittee.

Under the legislation, a gun owner could not carry a weapon if the owner of the premises has banned weapons from being brought inside and posted a notice informing people of the ban.

The gun owner also wouldn't be allowed to consume alcohol while in the establishment.

Jackson said the bill doesn't interfere with the rights of business owners and ensures that gun owners will be able to defend themselves in such an establishment if necessary. Currently, he said some individuals leave their weapons in their vehicles or don't bring them at all.

Right now, "we're asking law-abiding citizens to put their guns up and walk inside these establishments without a means of self-defense," said Jackson, adding that 34 states have similar legislation.

However, several lawmakers said they're concerned about what might happen with guns and alcohol in the same room.

"Liquor and guns don't mix," said Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville. "I'm a nurse, and I've seen enough unnecessary death."

Sen. Beverly Marrero said she's uncomfortable with the legislation because of the irrational behavior she's seen in bars.

"I was relatively happy that the people in those bars weren't armed," said the Memphis Democrat.

The other dissenting voters were: Sens Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey; Thelma Harper, D-Nashville; Joe Haynes, D-Goodlettsville; and Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.

Read the full text of SB0023 on the General Assembly's Web site at: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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