VOL. 124 | NO. 49 | Thursday, March 12, 2009
Guns in Bars Proposal Advanced to Full House Vote
By ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) – Tennessee handgun permit holders could carry their weapons where alcohol is served under a proposal headed for a full House vote.
The House Judiciary Committee Wednesday advanced on a voice vote the measure to allow handguns at restaurants and bars where alcohol is available until 11 p.m.
Permit holders would still be barred from drinking while carrying their weapons at all times, and the bill sponsored by Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, would maintain a ban on guns in any establishment with an age restriction.
Rep. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, sought to remove the time restriction from the bill, so permit holders “don’t have to be looking at their watch at all times just to try to figure out exactly what hour of the day it is, and whether they can carry certain places or whether they can’t.”
Kelsey’s proposal failed for lack of support from any other committee member.
Rep. Janis Baird Sontany, a Nashville Democrat who later voted against the bill, raised concerns that the bill does not define who would be responsible for enforcing the handgun curfew.
“Who is going to say: ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Todd, I can’t serve you because you’re carrying a gun?’” she said. “Who do we put this burden on in the restaurant?”
Responded Todd: “The burden is not going to be on the restaurant owner, it’s going to be on the individual, because he’s going to know that he has a chance there if he’s caught to lose his gun permit forever.”
Democratic Reps. Karen Camper of Memphis and Mike Stewart of Nashville were the only others on the 12-member panel to register votes against the proposal.
The panel also advanced a measure sponsored by Rep. Henry Fincher, D-Cookeville, to allow permit holders to carry loaded rifles or shotguns in their cars.
Another proposal by Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, would preserve the right of local and municipal governments to ban guns.
“A city could authorize this on a greenway or a bike trail, but prohibit it on the athletic fields or ball fields,” he said.
But the bill was delayed for a week so lawmakers could work out sign requirements. The panel previously advanced a measure to allow handguns to be carried in state parks.
The committee has yet to take up bills seeking to close the state’s handgun carry database from public inspection. Some of those proposals would also make it a crime to publish any handgun permit information.
On the Net:
Read HB0962, HB0390 and HB0960 at: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov
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