Under the amendment, which passed 27-4, any establishment whose primary business is booze rather than food would have to post signs barring guns. It’s a little like the bill that became law last year, except that statute left handgun permit holders to figure it out for themselves. That’s impossible, of course, unless they have access to the business’ receipts. So it was struck down in court as unconstitutionally vague because no one could know whether they were breaking the law when they walked into a place packing heat.
Gun proponents wanted to solve the problem by allowing firearms into all establishments, including honky tonks and bars, no matter how much food they served. But Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, said he had a better idea. His amendment fixes the constitutionality issue, he told the committee, and lets everybody feel better about mixing booze and guns and putting the citizenry of the entire state of Tennessee at risk just to please the NRA. Tindell said:
“I think there is no ambiguity in this amendment at all. It will not face the same problems as the bill last year faced in terms of courts. The public just simply comes in and looks for the sign. Yes there’s a sign. No there’s not a sign. The public will know. There will be a sign there. It’s up to the proprietor to post a sign.”
Once amended, the bill was adopted 17-13 on its way to the House floor for final passage.