Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Governor Calls for Rolling Back Gun Laws, Denounces Guns-In-Bars as Legislature's 'Monster'

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 4:18 PM

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Gov. Phil Bredesen said today the legislature "created a monster" by enacting the guns-in-bars law and predicted a public backlash next session. "They're just shaking their heads and thinking it's craziness," the governor said of the public reaction. He called for rolling back some of the state's new gun laws "into a more reasonable position." He said the state's Second Amendment champions number only a few thousand and hold too much influence over public policy. He said he'd oppose any attempt to remove the guns-in-parks law's "opt-out" provision for cities and counties. Here's the Q&A:

Q: A lot of cities and county governments are voting to opt in or opt out. Some gun advocates are saying this is creating a lot of confusion and next session they'll work to take the opt out clause out of the law?

Bredesen: No, the only reason I found the guns-in-parks bill even marginally acceptable was the fact that it did have that opt out clause. I thought frankly a lot of particularly urban and suburban counties were going to feel that's important. When these parks have a lot of kids in them, I understand completely why somebody would want to prohibit the guns in the parks. I'm hoping that after this flurry of activity that we had on these gun issues this year, that maybe the legislature will step back. I think an awful lot of people who didn't really engage on this issue but felt very strongly on the other side might get engaged this time around. I mean this is an issue that's being driven by a few thousand people in this state. They're very passionate about this issue. But I think there are tens or hundreds of thousand or millions of people who think of these things as at a minimum not very important in the scheme of things being considered in the state. In particular in cases like the guns in bars, they're just shaking their heads and thinking it's craziness. If these things cause people to take a fresh look at it this next year, I think that would be a good thing. I frankly think the legislature is going to hear a lot more from the other side this time around.

Q: Are you hoping the establishments will ban guns by posting signs?

Bredesen: I certainly think where there's literally a lot of bar activity late at night, I think they're already starting to do it. ... I think they just kind of created a monster there. I think the bar owners are going to do the best they can over the next few months, but I expect this to come up again.

Q: Would you personally get engaged?

Bredesen: I think I made my opinion clear on this subject. ... But I thought the guns in bars in particular ended up in a very bad place. ... Certainly on the guns in bars issue they know where I stand. But I'm not promising anything in particular next year yet. I have to see what the lay of the land is.

Q: Would you like to see some of these laws rolled back?

Bredesen: I would love to see some of them rolled back into a more reasonable position. I mean, one of the things that's been so striking to me is we got a huge amount of email traffic on this subject. Initially, almost of it pro the legislation and really coming from a relatively limited number of people. I mean, there's a universe of about 3,000 people or 3,500 people out there who always engage on this issue. ... After the thing passed ... the comments that I have from people you just see on the street and see in different places, they're just kind of scratching their heads and saying I guess I didn't focus on that and I can't really see why this piece of legislation would pass. So I really do think that next time around, there's likely to be a lot more focus from people who think this is a bad idea. The whole thing is typical of a lot of things in politics. You have a few people on one side who care passionately about a thing and you may have a very large number of people for whom it's not the important thing in their lives but they have a strong feeling. Sometimes you need something like this to energy those people and get them engaged.

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