Senate overrides veto of bill allowing guns where alcohol served
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Senate has joined the House in overriding Governor Phil Bredesen's veto of a bill to allow handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into places that serve alcohol.
The Senate late Thursday morning approved the override 21 to 9. The House voted 69-27 to override the veto Wednesday afternoon.
Fifty votes were needed in the House and 17 in the Senate to overturn the veto.
The measure was to take effect June 1.
It will now take effect in 40 days, on July 14.
Under the measure, handgun carry permit holders can bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as they don't drink.
Any such establishment still has the authority to forbid permit holders to carry in their weapons by posting a sign that says no guns are allowed.
Currently, 37 states have similar legislation.
In a statement released Wednesday, Governor Bredesen's press secretary said, "Governor Bredesen said last week when he vetoed this bill that he expected an override. He's disappointed with this action but that doesn't change his belief that we can exercise our second amendment rights and common sense at the same time. He believes guns and bars simply don't mix, and this legislation doesn't provide the proper safeguards to ensure public safety. Governor Bredesen stands by his decision to veto the bill."
Randy Rayburn, owner of Sunset Grill in Hillsboro Village, has long been against allowing guns where alcohol is served and called the legislature's vote to override the governor's veto "insane."
A gun owner himself, Rayburn said having guns in restaurants is bad business and even if his restaurants didn't serve alcohol, he wouldn't want guns inside.
"I am a gun owner and a hunter but I don't believe in allowing guns in restaurants, period," he said. "[I] think the legislation that has been vetoed by the governor and overridden provides no safety for our customers or our employees."
Rayburn said he and other local restaurant owners plan to fight for local legislation that would override the soon-to-be state law.
"I have been working with a number of council people and local attorneys to be able to work with other restaurants and tourism to allow our local council to be able to override the legislature's override, at least on a local basis," he told News 2.
To those that don't agree with his stance, Rayburn says, "Happy eating elsewhere folks.'
The override is a first for Governor Bredesen but not the first time lawmakers in Tennessee overturned a governor's decision.
In 2001, an override vote was cast against Governor Don Sundquist's veto of a budget appropriations bill.
The main issue was Sundquist's desire to create a state income tax.