NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee House Monday night delayed vote on a measure that would allow handgun permit owners to carry their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol as long as they don't drink.
The measure is one of many gun bills that have reached the floor of the House this legislative session.
Former Memphis police officer turned lawmaker Curry Todd has pushed the bill for eight years.
"It lets the criminal element know that if someone is going back and forth to their car they are not going to know who has a handgun permit if they try to harm them or their family," said Todd, who represents a portion of Shelby County.
Monday night, Rep. Todd requested a one week delay after a fellow Republican lawmaker sought to strip out a proposed 11 p.m. curfew in the bill.
Rep. Brian Kelsey argued the curfew would be too confusing.
The House voted 61-32 to reject Todd's effort to throw out Kelsey's change.
Todd's bill would only apply to people with state-issued handgun permits who don't consume alcohol.
Owners would still be able to ban weapons from being carried in their establishments.
Sponsors of the bill say they have the support of people who frequent Tennessee restaurants.
"I would like to have someone there stop the unwanted person with a gun," said Steve Ford, who worked for nearly two decades in Nashville bars and restaurants before recently changing careers.
"I was in the bar business for a very long time and have never seen a single time when someone carried a single gun into the bar," he told News 2.
His wife, Donna, understands the protection aspect of allowing handguns permit carriers to carry their weapons into bars, as long as they don't drink.
She likens it to another type of establishment.
"Then we have the liquor store in our neighborhood and they all carry guns and I think it's a fantastic idea," she said.
Nashville entertainer Billy Block, who has seen many a late night at local hotspots, sees no reason for allowing guns in bars.
"Sometimes situations come up where you don't make good choices. Law enforcement is trained to make good choices. Why take the risk?" he asked.
Governor Phil Bredesen said he is supportive of Second Amendment rights to bear arms, but indicated Monday he will look at each gun bill specifically before deciding which measures he will sign, if any.