Last month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed legislation to allow “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded guns” into establishments that serve alcohol. The law does not permit gun holders to consume alcohol, though the gun lobby is working to get that changed.
Virginia isn’t alone in its quest to arm its bar patrons. The Georgia state house has also passed a bill that would make it “legal to enter a bar or restaurant with a licensed concealed weapon and get drunk,” as long as the individual doesn’t fire the weapon.
Tennessee, too, is trying to follow in Virginia’s footsteps. Last year, the legislature overrode Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto to pass a law providing gun owners the right to carry their weapons into any restaurant, except those whose predominant business was to serve alcohol. But the law was declared unconstitutionally vague by a state court, so Tennessee is trying again. This time, the law provides “no exclusions for where guns can be carried, as long as permit holders don’t consume alcohol.”
Rep. Joe McCord, a Republican state legislator with an A+ plus rating from the NRA, explained what is going on:
‘Essentially, NRA is saying to us, if you don’t support and vote for carrying guns in bars, we will not endorse you,’ McCord said. ‘This line of reasoning borders on lunacy.
‘What line will we not cross for the NRA? At what point do we say that’s too much?’ asked McCord, who is not seeking re-election. ‘I’m sorry for those of you who feel you have to hold your nose and vote for it … because of the NRA.’
Indeed, some legislators voted for it despite voicing concerns about the bill, presumably due to pressure from the NRA. In fact, an NRA lobbyist reportedly was invited to speak to a meeting of the House Republican Caucus just hours before the vote took place.
Gov. Bredesen is waiting to decide whether to veto the “guns in bars” bill. He has said the revised measure “hasn’t been made any better.” When he vetoed the bill last year, Bredesen cited a gun safety class he took in high school, sponsored by the National Rifle Association: “A basic tenet taught at that class was this: ‘Guns and alcohol don’t mix.’”
According to a poll conducted for the Brady Campaign, a majority of respondents — 56 percent – “favor Starbucks and other retail establishments establishing strict ‘no guns’ policies for their businesses – and far more gun owners support a ‘no guns’ policy for Starbucks than believe Starbucks and other businesses should allow firearms on their premises.”