Committee suggests alternative to guns in bars - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Committee suggests alternative to guns in bars

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In the fight over guns in bars, Tennessee lawmakers have vowed to overturn Governor Bredesen's veto and allow gun owners to carry in bars.  However, Memphis lawmakers plan to come up with their own rules.

Members of the Memphis City Council's Public Safety Committee considered a resolution Tuesday that would encourage restaurant owners to post signs banning guns from their property.

The resolution is a response to a bill in the Tennessee legislature that would allow people with carry permits to bring guns into restaurants that serve alcohol as long as they don't drink.

"No one can police that," council member Harold Collins said. "Not even the great Memphis Police Department can police that."

Governor Phil Bredesen vetoed the bill and held a ceremony featuring law enforcement officers from around the state.  Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell were there in support of the veto.

However, the legislature is expected to override the Governor's veto.  Council member Reid Hedgepeth says the resolution unfairly punishes responsible gun owners.

"A criminal can take a gun into a restaurant they can do with it what they want to," he said. "Here we are taking a law abiding citizen who's been through the classes, no felonies, no criminal backgrounds and telling them 'you can't take your gun in.'"

In the end, committee members approved the resolution in a four to two vote.  While the enforceability of a restaurant's ban is up for debate, if a gun owner is caught inside a restaurant that bans guns, he or she would receive a fine of up to $500.

The issue goes to the full city council next week, with a recommendation from committee members that they approve it.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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