As Gun Rights Expand, Some States Allow Loaded Weapons in Bars

If you head into a bar in Tennessee, you no longer have to leave your loaded pistol behind.

The state recently passed a law explicitly allowing loaded guns in bars, joining Arizona, Georgia and Virginia in permitting the weapon-toting practice. The development reflects, The New York Times reports, a new wave in the country’s gun debate, as the gun lobby pushes bills in one state after another.

The expansion of gun owners’ rights was ushered in by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that overturned handgun bans in Washington and Chicago and found that individuals have the right to keep a loaded handgun for their own defense.

Along with the legislative efforts, the Times said, more than 250 lawsuits have been filed challenging gun laws.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group, said “the attitude from the gun lobby is that they should be able to take their guns wherever they want.”

But Curry Todd, the Tennessee state representative who introduced the guns-in-bars bill, said the new law was intended to allow people to defend themselves while getting to and from an establishment. “Folks were being robbed, assaulted — it was becoming an issue of personal safety,” said Todd, a Republican, who added that the National Rifle Association had helped his legislative efforts.

Along with the four states explicitly permitting loaded guns in bars, 18 states allow weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol. Another 20 states don’t have laws addressing the issue,  apparently allowing by default people with permits to carry guns into places that serve alcohol.

Under Tennessee’s law, gun owners are barred from drinking alcohol when they carry weapons. Restaurant and bar owners also can prohibit customers from bringing guns inside their establishments.

Still, the law has critics, including Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who vetoed the bill but was overriden by the state legislature. A customer at a Nashville bar quoted by the Times said the new law “opens the door to trouble. It’s giving you the right to be Wyatt Earp.”

Related Posts:

Right to Bear Arms Extends to Local Laws, Supreme Court Rules
Judge Upholds D.C. Gun Laws
Iowa Law Would Loosen Gun Restrictions, Follow National Trend

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About the author

Jill Replogle is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

4 comments to “As Gun Rights Expand, Some States Allow Loaded Weapons in Bars”

  1. AmericansForGuns

    MANY states already allow this…either BY law….or by lack of law.
    And it hasnt been a problem.
    So much for chicken little left wing nutjob prophecies about ‘blood in the streets’ and ‘wild, wild west’ rhetoric.

    BradyNuts have been disproven, refuted and basically look like the factless fools they are.

  2. Bruce Jackson

    THis is the case in 43 states and there is no issue. The press, mostly the OPED pages, have taken this on like Chicken Littles. “The sky is falling! The sky is FALLING!!” Please! Get a life.

  3. Jim In Houston

    So, are there any data from ANY of the states that permit this carry that safety is impinged?

    If not, then why the concern?

    If not, why would you wish to gratuitously infringe on a person’s rights?

  4. Guns In Bars — What Could Go Wrong? « Alan Colmes' Liberaland

    […] On most issues I like to think I understand the other side of the argument.  I may not agree with it but often I can find some merit in the opposing (usually conservative) position.  Gun control is an exception.  And with the recent Supreme Court decisions, gun laws are being weakened across the country. […]

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