Tenn. House overrides Governor’s guns in bars veto

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The state House has joined the Senate in once again voting to override the governor's veto of a bill to allow handgun carry permit holders to bring weapons into bars and alcohol-serving restaurants.

The House voted 61-30 Friday night to override. The Senate voted 22-10 for it last week.

“I ask that you … give the law-biting citizens of this state a right to protect themselves,” said Republican House sponsor Curry Todd of Collierville.

Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen last month vetoed the guns bill sponsored by Todd on the basis that “guns and alcohol don't mix.” The House had passed the bill on a 66-31 vote, while the Senate approved it by a 23-9 margin.

The measure would apply to the state's 270,000 handgun carry permit holders. Bar and restaurant owners would maintain the power to ban all weapons from their establishments.

Bredesen vetoed a similar measure last year, flanked by law enforcement officers and prosecutors who opposed the bill, but he was easily overridden by the Legislature.

He said last month that he expected the latest override of his veto, which takes only a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Following last week's Senate override, Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker issued a statement that the governor has “clearly communicated his concerns with this legislation with the members of the General Assembly, through his public statements and through his veto messages to the House and Senate speakers. He believes this bill violates the fundamental principle that alcohol and guns don't mix.”

Last year's version sought to exclude places that predominantly serve alcohol, but a Nashville judge declared the law “unconstitutionally vague” because Tennessee makes no legal distinction between bars and restaurants.

This year's bill made no exclusions for where guns can be carried, as long as permit holders don't consume alcohol.

Read SB3012/HB3125 at http://capitol.tn.gov

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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