Chancellor denies injunction to stop guns-in-bars law

Monday, July 13, 2009 at 4:58pm

Tennessee handgun carry permit holders will be allowed to take their guns into establishments serving alcohol Tuesday, although a variety of exceptions makes it unclear where exactly concealed weapons will be allowed.

Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman rejected on Monday on procedural grounds a claim for a temporary injunction, which would have prevented the law from taking effect. However, Bonnyman recommended the legal challenge brought forward by three restaurant owners, nine Nashville servers and four permit holders go forward in 90 days.

Bonnyman said the three restaurateurs and nine servers would not face immediate harm because the harm could be avoided by the posting of signs prohibiting guns on the premises. The new state law allows permit holders to carry guns into restaurants, but only if they are not consuming alcohol. Establishments may choose to ban guns on their own, and it is a Class A misdemeanor for disregarding an owner’s own handgun ban.

During Monday’s hearing, lead counsel for the plaintiffs David Randolph Smith argued that the new law was so vague that permit holders wouldn’t know where they could and couldn’t carry. The new law states guns are allowed only in establishments deriving most of their income from the sale of food.

But the restaurateurs — who owned establishments like Sam’s Sports Bar, Cabana, Midtown Café, Sunset Grill and the Melrose Neighborhood Pub — argued that in certain months most of their income comes from alcohol and beer, while in other months it comes from food sales. Smith said permit holders would have difficulty discerning whether they were breaking the law by taking a gun into such an establishment.

Smith pointed out that Tennessee would become the first state in the country to explicitly allow carry permit holders to take guns into places that serve alcohol.

Bonnyman said the “void for vagueness” argument had “merit,” but said the court could not “leap over rules of civil procedure and declare whether the law can ever be enforced or not.”

Bonnyman suggested the plaintiffs and the defendant, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, file a hearing schedule and move the case ahead.

Earlier Monday, some high-profile organizations filed affidavits in support of the legal challenge to the guns-in-bars law. Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas filed an affidavit stating the new law would be difficult for officers to enforce. Serpas’s affidavit stated that guns and alcohol were a dangerous mix.

Also filing affidavits opposing the law were the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

18 Comments on this post:

By: PYRO on 7/13/09 at 3:26

We keep beating them down as they come. No real arguments, just speculation how you want things to turn out so your agenda doesn't seem completely absurd.

By: getitright on 7/13/09 at 3:29

I do not understand why you call it "guns-in-bars". That is completely false. The bill allows permit holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, not in bars. In fact it expressly forbids guns in establishments that have an age restriction... in other words "bars".
Perhaps a bit of research prior to publishing your stories is in order.

By: NashvilleAdam on 7/13/09 at 4:54

First, call the National Rifle Association...1-800-672-3888. Then, find a gun-friendly bar to enjoy food, drink and SAFETY.

By: xhexx on 7/13/09 at 6:08

David Randolph Smith is either stupid or a liar. There is a definition of what is considered a restaurant in the new handgun carry bill, but it makes no mention at off any percentages of food vs alcohol sales.

"(B) As used in this subdivision (c)(3), “restaurant” means any public
place kept, used, maintained, advertised and held out to the public as a place where meals are served and where meals are actually and regularly served, such place being provided with adequate and sanitary kitchen and dining room equipment, having employed therein a sufficient number and kind of employees to prepare, cook and serve suitable food for its guests. At least one (1) meal per day shall be served at least five (5) days a week, with the exception of holidays, vacations and periods of redecorating, and the serving of such meals shall be the principal business conducted."

He's just a second rate ambulance chaser.

By: Schuss on 7/13/09 at 9:39

Here's a beginning list of places to stay out of:
Sam’s Sports Bar, Cabana, Midtown Café, Sunset Grill and the Melrose Neighborhood Pub...

By: idgaf on 7/14/09 at 5:38

By: getitright on 7/13/09 at 4:29
I do not understand why you call it "guns-in-bars". That is completely false. The bill allows permit holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, not in bars. In fact it expressly forbids guns in establishments that have an age restriction... in other words "bars".
Perhaps a bit of research prior to publishing your stories is in order.

That would interfere with their agenda.

Have you not taken propaganda 101?

By: Redman on 7/14/09 at 5:52

I agree that David Randolph Smith is stupid, his recourse is to put up a sign banning guns in his eatablishments, I doubt if I would go in them anyway.

By: HenryB on 7/14/09 at 5:56

So let me understand the arguments here: You're saying that if an armed permit holder goes to Applebee's, he or she shouldn't sit in the bar area of the restaurant, right? That would be the logical conclusion based on the posts so far.

By: xhexx on 7/14/09 at 6:28

HenryB, why do restaurants like Applebee's allow small children in the bar area?

By: HenryB on 7/14/09 at 6:37

Because the children have their parents with them? Perhaps that what gun-toters need -- parents.

By: xhexx on 7/14/09 at 6:42

Still, a "bar" is no place for children.

By: xhexx on 7/14/09 at 6:44

idgaf,
I hate to break this to you, but the final version of the bill doesn't include the age restriction. It was struck from the Senate version of the bill that was adopted, along with the curfew.

By: freddy on 7/14/09 at 8:32

Does anyone know of a single restaurant owner in Nashville in favor of allowing gun owners with permits to carry in their establishment? People who think they'll be attacked in a restaurant say they'll just take their business elsewhere if they see a "no guns" sign, but it sure seems like every restaurant is going to put one up. Maybe time to take a cooking class!

By: PYRO on 7/14/09 at 9:17

freddy, Shoneys, Crackerbarrel, Ryans, and many other restaurants that do not serve alchol already server permit holders without problems. What makes you think it will be different now? Maybe in you lala land world I guess

By: PYRO on 7/14/09 at 9:29

I hope all you gun haters don't go to the restaurants that don't post. Even though stupid is not contagious, it is still annoying to be around. If you feel so unsafe to be around people that can possible be legally carrying a firearms, then move out of the great state of Tennessee because us "gun loving looneys" are not going anywhere.

By: freddy on 7/14/09 at 11:26

Pyro, you eat at Shoney's and Ryan's, I'll eat at the nicer places that ban guns, and we'll both be happy. Problem solved!

By: ucan on 7/14/09 at 12:25

How many of these owners keep a gun in their restaurant? I bet alot of these hipocrits do.

By: pswindle on 7/14/09 at 5:47

I just want to ask, Why? When the first shoot-out occurs, we will have one more law-suit. Who would be sued? John Harris, senate and NRA.