Tennessee Gun Bill Vetoed

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has vetoed a bill that would allow handguns in bars, but that’s not the end of the story.

The bill, if signed by the governor, would have allowed handguns in any bar that serves alcohol unless the establishment posts a sign banning it. Proponents claimed it was a matter of protection; opponents claimed it was a matter of mixing drunk people with guns.

Bredesen held a news conference, surrounded by law officers, to explain his May 28 veto. He talked about a firearms safety class he took in high school.

“I remember from the course there was one thing that teacher drove into us day in and day out. … That message was guns and alcohol do not mix,” Bredesen said, according to the Tennessean. “That was a common sense proposition back then, and it is every bit as true today.”

But vetoes can be overridden in Tennessee by a simple majority vote in both houses of the state legislature.

“We’re probably going to set up an override next week,” Rep. Curry Todd, who sponsored the bill, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “There’s going to be a showdown like at the OK Corral, except that the legislative branch and the people of Tennessee are going to win this one. … It puts me into a position like Wyatt Earp.”

Sen. Doug Jackson, who also defended the bill, said he wanted to talk with Bredesen first, although he said the governor “has never sat down and discussed this with me.”

Jackson said there has been a remarkable record of firearm safety and responsibility in Tennessee, with only a “tiny fraction” of less than 1 percent of permit holders losing their handgun permits for felonies and other problems.