NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State lawmakers have now passed two versions of a bill that would allow people with handgun carry permits to carry their weapons into bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
They are expected to try and resolve the differences on Monday.
The Senate measure sponsored by Sen. Doug Jackson was approved 26-7, but it doesn't contain two amendments that were included in the companion bill that passed the House earlier this month.
One provision would create a curfew for handguns being carried between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and the other would ban handguns at any establishment that enforces age restrictions.
However, the Senate bill allows establishment owners to post signs prohibiting handguns, and it also maintains current rules that prohibit alcohol consumption by anyone carrying a firearm.
Jackson said he anticipates the House sponsor won't agree with the changes and that the matter will probably end up in a conference committee.
However, he said he expects the Senate version will prevail because it is the better bill.
"What we have... is the same right that's extended to individuals in 33 other states," Jackson said.
Those who voted against the measure said putting alcohol and guns in close proximity is not a good idea.
Sen. Beverly Marrero said some may think there's a "vast conspiracy to take away everyone's guns."
The Memphis Democrat, however, said that's not the case and that her concern is about safety.
Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville said he understands that establishments, such as "honky-tonks", are places "to get under the influence and forget about the hard times of life." "But if you're in a honky-tonk and you're knocking them back as long as you can hold them, then I don't think that's a good place to carry a pistol," he said while saying he's "always voted for gun bills."