Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Guns In Bars Bandwagon That Wasn't

Remember that whole spiel about how 40 states allow guns in bars and restaurants and so Tennessee should, too? The argument being, if it hasn’t been a problem in those 40 other states, why would it be a problem here? You know, time to jump on the bandwagon and all that?

Heh. Funny thing: according to a local attorney who has researched the applicable state laws, it turns out there aren’t anything close to 40 states allowing guns in bars and restaurants after all:
On Wednesday, The Lede spoke with David Randolph Smith, whose Nashville law firm is leading the fight to have Tennessee’s law declared unconstitutional. Mr. Smith says that his legal research team looked closely at the gun laws in every state, and found that there are just 14 states that issue permits allowing patrons to carry firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol.

Mr. Smith has posted the results of his legal team’s research on his Web site, beneath this statement: “The claim that ‘40′ states have ’similar laws’ to Tennessee’s new guns-in-bars law is false and misleading.” In fact, Mr. Smith writes, “because bars, saloons, nightclubs and restaurants with bar areas are notorious for fights, assaults and breaches of the peace, carrying loaded guns is expressly prohibited by law in bars, nightclubs or bar areas serving alcohol in 24 states [23 now that AZ changed its law].”

Heh. So, 14, not 40. Big difference.

I wonder where NewsChannel5 and the rest of our local media got that “40 states” information from, anyway? Information they were too lazy to verify? I can only imagine.

But in how many states does the law allow concealed weapons in bars? Actually, other than Tennessee, none:

No state, by statute or regulation, expressly allowed firearms to be brought into bars until the Tennessee legilsature passed Public Chapter 339, T.C.A. sec. 39-17-1305(c).

Tennessee law, unlike the law in the other 14 states that permitted carrying firearms into restaurants (but not bars) that served alcohol, does not distinguish between bars and restaurants.

All bars and clubs on Second Avenue & Broadway in Nashville and on Beale Street in Memphis, for example, are licensed as restaurants. Tenn. Code Ann. sec. 57-4-102(27)(A).

Indeed, it appears that five of the 14 states allowing guns in restaurants serving alcohol specifically ban guns from a restaurant's bar area.

So, more states ban guns in bars than allow them. And the Tennessee legislature jumped on a phantom bandwagon, the media repeated false gun lobby talking points, and the gun nuts misrepresented their side of the debate.

No one could have anticipated any of that.