published Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Tennessee House ‘guns in bars’ sponsor hopes to override Bredesen on Wednesday

Article: Chattanooga: Replay of Online Chat with State Senator Andy Berke

NASHVILLE — The House sponsor of a bill letting handgun-carry permit holders go armed in restaurants selling alcohol angrily accused Gov. Phil Bredesen on Monday of showing “no courtesy” for lawmakers by keeping “his little plan secret” to veto the measure until the last minute.

“I won’t tell you what the governor can do with that piece of paper he just sent,” Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, told the House after the governor’s veto message, signed last Thursday, was officially read in the chamber.

Rep. Todd served formal notice that he intends to override Gov. Bredesen’s veto on Wednesday. Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, the bill’s Senate sponsor, served notice on Friday. It was unclear whether the Senate override attempt would be made this morning or Wednesday.

Rep. Todd told the House that Sen. Jackson got word through back channels that a veto was pending, and Sen. Jackson reached the governor’s office about 2:40 p.m., some 20 minutes before the governor’s carefully choreographed news conference with law enforcement officials on Thursday.

“He had no intention of notifying us until Jackson called the governor’s office,” Rep. Todd said. “He has no courtesy for us as members of the General Assembly, to have the decency to let us know as sponsors of the bill really know what was going on.”

Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said “courtesy calls were absolutely made to both sponsors of the bill before the governor vetoed” the measure. “That’s part of the protocol.”

She provided no time line on the calls. As for Rep. Todd’s comments about what the governor “can do with that piece of paper,” Ms. Lenker said, “those types of comments are disappointing. Reasonable people can disagree, and do it reasonably and the public expects a higher degree of civility in these types of discussions.”

House Democratic Leader Mike Turner of Nashville chided Rep. Todd, saying his remarks were “a little out of line. ... I think it was inappropriate what he said about our governor. I hope he would refrain from doing those type statements in the future.”

Earlier in the day, Gov. Bredesen told reporters he won’t be “even faintly surprised” if lawmakers overrides his veto of House Bill 962. He said he simply wanted to give lawmakers another chance to think about the measure.

“For a couple hundred years in this country we have understood the rationale for not mixing guns and alcohol,” The Associated Press quoted the governor saying. “And to change it in this way in this state, for reasons that don’t seem the least bit clear, I just think is a real mistake.”

Earlier in the day, Rep. Todd said, “I look forward to the veto. I got the votes.”

This is Gov. Bredesen’s sixth veto. Lawmakers have not attempted to override previous vetoes. But an override only requires a simple constitutional majority of 50 votes in the House and 17 votes in the Senate — the same number needed to pass a bill.

The bill passed the House 66-23 in its final version. The Senate approved the measure in a 26-7 vote.

The bill allows the state’s estimated 222,000 permit holders to bring loaded handguns into restaurants selling alcohol as well as bars and night clubs provided they do not drink. It also allows establishments to post signs banning handguns, which are to be obeyed. Police say enforcement would be difficult at best.

Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, said the “guns in bars” bill is a major topic of conversation in Chattanooga.

“I have never had so many people stop me and talk with me about a single issue,” said Sen. Berke, who has been in office for 18 months. “It’s very hard to go to a restaurant and not have somebody ask me about what is going on the Legislature about guns.”

During an online discussion Monday morning at the Times Free Press, most of the questions to Sen. Berke centered on gun legislation. Some questioners suggested Democrats were out of touch on the issue.

“Every lawmaker considers the political consequences of a vote,” said Sen. Berke, who voted against the bill. “But I truly believe guns in bars is a bad idea, politics aside.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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MountainJoe said...

Way to go Rep. Todd and Sen. Jackson. This is a family newspaper, so I won't say what the governor can do with his piece of paper either. But I will say that Senator Berke is out of touch with his constituents and needs to be replaced at the very next opportunity.

June 2, 2009 at 2:59 p.m.
EaTn said...

Correction: Senator Berke is in total touch with the majority of his constituents. The majority do not want to share food, alcohol with guns. The other senators would be wise to follow Senator Berke's lead. Remember, only about 10% of the adult population fits into the category of carry permit holders. Even fewer fit into the category of wishing to carry guns into places that serve alcohol. You want to carry? Fine, just leave it in the car cause guns and alcohol don't mix.

June 2, 2009 at 3:11 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Lord lord we just can't quit - are we addicted to this argument? lol

Today's contribution: It doesn't matter if this bill passes or not. The WILL be guns in places that sell alcohol. Unfortunately, they will all be carried by those who have them now. Guess who?

June 2, 2009 at 5:39 p.m.
EaTn said...

Sailorman- yeah I've tried to go cold-turkey on the subject, but I read a comment and the itch to reply pops up before I realize what's happening.

June 2, 2009 at 6:09 p.m.
legallyarmed said...

All of the arguments on this topic have been versed over and over again - nothing new. It is wonderful that we live in a country where we can go to an open forum such as this and state our position freely.

June 2, 2009 at 6:24 p.m.
Sailorman said...

lol EaTn know the feeling. Excellent point legallyarmed

If you want to see how the less civilized handle the topic, go look at the Commercial Appeal. When it's not being nasty it's sounds like school children arguing. And that applies to both sides. Thank God we on this end of the state are more civilized - and intelligent - and better looking too!

June 2, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.
EaTn said...

Sailorman, just checked it out and they're wild. The web page is identical to that at Knox News Sentential and the posters are similar. Must be partners or owned by same co.

June 2, 2009 at 8:24 p.m.
moonpie said...

Polls across the state on sites like this have consistently sided with the governor. I know these are not scientific polls. However, I know very few people (including permit holders) who think this is good law. It does not appear that Todd wants the will of the people.

I think there is a very vocal minority on this site and in the legislature.

I have written about 25 state reps and senators. I've done my part.

Any of you on either side of this issue who haven't done the same, are wasting your time on this site. This site is not where the argument is won at this point.

Andy Berke has proved himself, to me, to be very level headed and pragmatic. He will have to fall far for me not to vote for him in the future.

June 2, 2009 at 9:31 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Polls are only as good as the manner in which the question is phrased. The one's I've seen, on both sides, phrase them to prompt the answer they want. I don't give them much credibility if any. If it were possible to come up with an appropriate question, I believe you would find most people don't think it an important issue in the scope of current events. Both sides have their vocal minority. I too have written letters. We'll see what happens. I don't expect anything to change regardless of the outcome - other than our constitutional rights are regained a bit or further eroded.

June 2, 2009 at 11:40 p.m.
moonpie said...

I just checked back in on the Chattanoogan. Their poll has 52% favoring the overturn of the veto..... this is very different than a couple of days ago.

June 2, 2009 at 11:43 p.m.
brandon83 said...

Maybe some people are starting to realize that regardless of this law, guns will still be carried by criminals where they are not allowed. This bill will not change the behavior of criminals and law breakers could care less about bills like these. The bill only impacts law-abiding citizens, whether they support it or don't agree with it. I have already talked to a bunch of people around town the past couple weeks and believe that I have explained some misconceptions about the bill and carry permits in general and have others seeing why those with permits are so adamant about this bill. Heck, I have even offered to take some people to the range and introduce them to firearms.

Based on statistics in 37 other states which allow permit holders to carry in restaurants where alcohol is served, I have a feeling that when this veto is overturned in TN, there will be a smooth transition and nothing will change in restaurants except for the fact that law-abiding citizens don't have to disarm before taking their family out to Logan's, etc.

June 3, 2009 at 8:53 a.m.
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