For the second straight year, Gov. Phil Bredesen has vetoed the guns-in-bars bill. In his veto message, he's calling this year's version "even more expansive and dangerous" because it lets our citizen gunmen go armed not only into O'Charley's and other restaurants that happen to serve alcohol but also into any honky-tonk, roadhouse or hole-in-the-wall dive in the state. Just like last year, a veto override is certain. "We overrode the veto once, I'm sure we can do it again," Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says. "This is much ado about nothing." Our lawmakers wouldn't wish to upset the NRA, now would they? Here's the governor's letter to Ramsey:
Dear Speaker Ramsey:
I am vetoing Senate Bill 3012.
As I stated in the letter accompanying my veto message of a similar piece of legislation last year, I believe a basic and effective rule of gun safety is one I was first taught at a National Rifle Association-sponsored gun safety class almost 50 years ago: "Guns and alcohol don't mix."
I am a strong supporter of the individual right to bear and keep arms, and I hold this right sacred as both an American and a Tennessean. I am a gun owner and I exercise my rights as a hunter and in various other shooting activities as well. I value the constitutional right that allows me to protect my home and family. In Tennessee, this fundamental right has long been exercised with common-sense, reasonable rules. These rules don't diminish our collective freedom, but instead ensure that this fundamental right is exercised in a common-sense manner that ensures the survival of the right itself.
Until last year, Tennessee had long prohibited the possession of firearms in bars and restaurants that served alcohol. The legislation that passed last year removed this protection in a way that I, along with many law enforcement officers and innumerable private citizens, believed to be reckless and lacking in basic safeguards to public safety. A successful court challenge to last year's actions provided the General Assembly with a second opportunity to reconsider and adopt a more responsible approach to this issue. Instead, the General Assembly has essentially re-passed last year's legislation in an even more expansive and dangerous form. For this reason, I cannot sign this measure into law.
I'm well aware of the number of votes this matter garnered in the General Assembly, but as you consider this veto, I again respectfully urge the legislature to rethink this issue.