Last year, the state legislature in Tennessee overrode Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto of a bill that would have allowed gun owners to carry their weapons into any restaurant except those whose predominant business was to serve alcohol. After the law “was later declared unconstitutionally vague,” Bredesen is currently deciding whether to veto a new bill state legislators passed this year that has “no exclusions for where guns can be carried, as long as permit holders don’t consume alcohol.”
But other state measures have the potential to go a bit further. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) recently signed a bill into law that allows “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded guns” into bars. But the local gun lobby is trying to get it changed so they will also be allowed to consume alcohol. And in Georgia, the state house recently passed a bill 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.
This weekend at the NRA’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC, ThinkProgress asked NRA members about the wisdom of these state measures. One woman said she is “not a person who drinks” and therefore thought “concealed carry should extend to commercial establishments too,” including bars. When ThinkProgress asked her if people carrying guns into bars should be able to drink alcohol, the woman replied, “No.” Reactions from other members were a bit more definitive:
— NRA MEMBER 1: You shouldn’t go get drunk and go even target shooting or something, it impairs your judgement. … It’s a rule of thumb, alcohol and guns don’t mix.
— NRA MEMBER 2: It’s probably not the best mix. … I think if you have a place where people might get out of hand with the alcohol, if they do go in with arms it needs to be taken away. They need to set it aside.
— NRA MEMBER 3: That’s probably not the best idea…allowing people to bring guns into bars and drinking.
— NRA MEMBER 4: I can understand not…carrying while you’re drinking.
Watch the video compilation:
According to one Tennessee GOP representative, the NRA threatened to withdraw endorsements if legislators voted against the bill allowing residents to carry guns in bars. “This line of reasoning borders on lunacy,” he said, adding, “What line will we not cross for the NRA? At what point do we say that’s too much?”
A recent poll also found that 56 percent of gun owners said that retail establishments should establish a strict “no guns” policy for their business.