Most Tennesseans oppose letting the state’s licensed handgun carriers take their weapons into public parks and restaurants, and 80 percent are against guns in bars, according to a new poll by Middle Tennessee State University.
The findings are surprising after a legislative session dominated by the gun lobby, with big majorities enacting new laws this year to allow loaded weapons into public parks and restaurants that serve alcohol.
The poll released Wednesday showed 54 percent of state residents oppose allowing permit holders to carry handguns in parks; 60 percent in restaurants; and 80 percent in bars.
"Opposition to lawfully carrying handguns in bars is especially high, not only among all Tennesseans but also in households that include a handgun owner and even in households that include a handgun carry permit holder," said Dr. Jason Reineke, assistant professor of journalism and associate director of the poll.
The poll found that only about a quarter of those who have a handgun in their household favor allowing handguns to be carried in bars, Reineke said. And the percentage is about the same among those from households in which at least one person has a state handgun carry permit, he said.
Here are more poll results:
* Asked whether they personally plan to get inoculated against swine flu, 38 percent of Tennesseans - about two in five - answered yes. A 52 percent majority say they do not plan to be inoculated, and the rest aren't sure or decline to answer.
"Polls around the country are registering concern about the vaccine, even though experts say it is perfectly safe," said Dr. Ken Blake, associate professor of journalism at MTSU and director of the poll. "Those concerns have shown up in our poll, too."
The poll also shows that only about half of Tennesseans think the government will be able to ward off a nationwide swine flu epidemic.
"Tennesseans may be leery of the vaccine, but they do seem concerned about the possibility of a major outbreak," Blake said. "That suggests the situation could change rapidly. If, for example, swine flu cases spike upward or appear increasingly dangerous, demand for the vaccine could rise."
* Tennesseans agree on little about health-care reform than its importance. While about two-thirds of state residents consider health reform either very or extremely important, only 36 percent generally support the proposals that have been discussed in Congress so far, 46 percent oppose them, and a sizable 17 percent are unsure.
* President Obama's approval rating among Tennesseans has declined sharply since the spring. Only 46 percent of Tennesseans currently approve of the way Obama is handling his job, with 48 percent saying that they disapprove. In this past spring's poll, 53 percent of Tennesseans approved of Obama, and only 27 percent disapproved.
* Tennesseans seem largely indifferent to the drama Tuesday's special election produced over which party will gain the upper hand in Tennessee's state House of Representatives. Asked which party should control the Legislature, 31 percent say the Democrats, 33 percent say the Republicans, and 35 percent say they don't know.
* Indecision is even higher regarding the governor's race, despite the candidates already campaigning to replace Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. Twenty-five percent say they want a Democratic governor, but another 22 percent want a Republican governor, and a 51 percent majority say they have no preference right now. The rest give no answer.
* Seventy-one percent of Tennesseans say that the recession has hurt them financially, up from spring's 66 percent. But worry about the future economy has decreased to 33 percent from spring's 43 percent. These and other economic indicators in the poll suggest a cautious optimism among Tennesseans that the recession is abating.