Would you like a shot with that beer?

Lovers of freedom suffered a defeat yesterday when Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature "that would allow Tennessee's 270,000 gun permit holders to carry their firearms into bars, nightclubs, museums, zoos, and other establishments that have liquor licenses" (YeeHaw! Blam!), writes Faiz Shakir @ Think Progress. Gov. Bredessen described his decision to veto as a victory for common sense, arguing with some justice (I have been known to visit bars, so I can attest) that guns and alcohol are not the wisest of mixes. We can discuss favorite mixes later . . .

This is the second time in two years that Bredesen has vetoed a "guns in bars" bill. The Tennessee legislature overrode his last veto, but a court later struck down the law because it was unconstitutionally vague. An override of this veto is anticipated. According to the Tennessean newspaper:

"Will Cheek, a Nashville attorney who worked on last year's court challenge, agreed that an override probably would succeed. This year's bill was meant to be less susceptible to a court challenge, and Cheek said this measure doesn't have the same problems as the one passed last year. 'The NRA (National Rifle Association) is too powerful, particularly in an election year, for legislators to do the right thing,' he said. 'The governor is sticking to his principles. It's symbolic, but it's also consistent with what he believes.'"

Think Progress's Shakir reports that Rep. Joe McCord, a Tennessee Republican state legislator with an A+ plus rating from the NRA, and therefore a little more freedom to speak his mind on the matter, has criticized the NRA's "unreasonableness" on this guns before drinking bill. "Essentially, NRA is saying to us, if you don't support and vote for carrying guns in bars, we will not endorse you," McCord said. "This line of reasoning borders on lunacy."

The right to carry movement has been gathering steam in recent years (and what better place to blow some of that off than a bar?). Folks seem to want to carry weapons with them wherever they go (it's apparently really, really dangerous out there! Who knew?): to church, to Starbucks, meeting the president . . . According to the National Rifle Association, there are 40 Right-to-Carry states with varying degrees of restrictions from none at all to permit and concealed required. Only a handful of states still maintain significant barriers to carrying weapons, particularly of the concealed variety, including socialist communes like New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois. You know, the wimpy states.

Otherwise toting weapons of individual destruction is apparently sweeping the nation. Am I the only fella who remembers "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza"? Based on my long study of the sociological implications delineated by the writers of those westerns, well, just about any western, it just doesn't seem like a good idea for every cowpoke under God's blue sky to be carrying a gun. I predict, if this law survives the veto, there will be much jumping off of horses followed by wild gun firing and occasional, sometimes deadly gunplay inside bars when someone cheats at poker or Marlene Dietrich sees what the boys in the backroom will have. (But what do I know, hapless hippie that I am. Archie Bunker saw this coming ages ago.) Maybe Tennessee could keep the guns and outlaw horses and poker? Let's just leave Marlene Dietrich alone.

About the author

Kevin Clarke

Kevin Clarke is the chief correspondent for America magazine and author of Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out (Liturgical Press).