Gun bills backfire, Republicans meet in secret and more 

Gun bills backfiring
It looks like the legislature's Republican majority has created a fine little mess for itself by enacting all those gun laws.

All across Tennessee, bar and restaurant owners are slapping up signs to ban guns. Starting this summer, visitors to Beale Street will have to go through some kind of screening process to make sure they're unarmed. The Tennessee Hospitality Association says more than 80 percent of its members are banning guns.

"We still haven't been able to figure out the problem that existed that caused the need for this legislation," the association's Walt Baker says.

But Pith always thought the guns-in-parks law was the one that would really backfire on Republicans. It's one thing to endanger the lives of drunks and barflies. It's another when families don't feel safe anymore at their city park because a few assclowns insist on striding around with guns on their hips. Local governments are rushing to opt out of that law, and everyone's wondering what exactly lawmakers were thinking when they passed it.

In Murfreesboro, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association is threatening to hold Spring Fling somewhere else unless the council bans guns in parks. The weeklong high school sports tournaments bring more than $3 million in tourist dollars into the city. Also in Murfreesboro, they're worried about whether guns in parks might violate Little League baseball's safety policy.

Says one former ump: "If [Murfreesboro Little League organization] Optimist has to cut its Little League affiliation because of this stupid law, every Murfreesboro council member and legislator in Tennessee should be required to line up and get whacked in the head by a 12-year-old with a Little League-approved bat. Those are the only weapons that should be allowed in a ball park." JEFF WOODS

The mark of Thompson
In NPR coverage of the Supreme Court's big Ricci decision, Nina Totenberg includes a sound bite from University of Washington law professor Eric Schnapper: "This case could be the Fred Thompson of the court's term: much anticipated but quickly forgotten."

Ouch.

The metaphorical possibilities here are vast. Sarah Palin was the Fred Thompson of VP candidacies. The Titans 2008 playoff run was the Fred Thompson of NFL postseasons. My third wife was the Fred Thompson of romantic relationships. This story is the Fred Thompson of Pith... BRUCE BARRY

Cammack won't quit Belle Meade
A defiant Ward Cammack said today he won't quit the lily-white Belle Meade Country Club and and denied a Pith report that Democratic donors are refusing to give to his gubernatorial campaign because he belongs.

"I belong and I'm not going to quit," Cammack told Pith.

Quitting is "sort of the thing to do and I've never fully appreciated it because you know we all have different constituencies of people we may hang out with or are a part of, and I don't see any reason for me to turn my back on anybody, including the employees there," an apparent reference to the black waiters who serve the secretive club's members.

A painting of Robert E. Lee hangs over the fireplace in the foyer of the club, which historically excluded blacks but does now have at least one black member, an attorney who lives in Atlanta and only makes the four-hour trek once or twice a year.

"Nobody has said anything to me about it," says Cammack. "No donors, no supporters, nobody. It's the first I've heard of it."

Of his fundraising, he said, "It's hard. It's hard work" but he wouldn't say how much his campaign has received. He added: "I will say your sources are interesting and frenetic." Jeff Woods

Wacky Rutherford County
Those wacky Rutherford County Republicans are at it again. They only just took control of the election commission, and already they're holding secret meetings and calling the cops to toss reporters out on the street.

It got so testy last week that Murfreesboro Post publisher Mike Pirtle and Daily News Journal editor Jimmy Hart showed up to hand commission chair Tom Walker a copy of the state's Sunshine Law. From the Post:

"Walker was informed it is against state law to close a public meeting. He was then offered a copy of the Sunshine Law, which he declined, claiming he does not care what the law is and is just trying to protect the applicants by closing the meeting. State law says "the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret."

"We've got some crazy laws in this country," Republican Commissioner Doris Jones responded. JEFF WOODS

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