Fairfax, Va. – In a strong reaffirmation of the fundamental right of self-defense, the Tennessee House and Senate have successfully overridden Governor Phil Bredesen’s veto of Senate Bill 3012. This NRA-supported bill will enable law-abiding right-to-carry permit holders to carry firearms for self-defense in establishments where alcohol is served, as long as they do not consume alcohol or are not otherwise prohibited by posting provisions. SB 3012 passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, but Gov. Bredesen vetoed the bill on May 18, disappointing more than 250,000 right-to-carry permit holders in his state. While an override of the veto only needed a simple majority vote to pass, it cleared both chambers with overwhelming, bipartisan support. This measure was overridden in the Senate by a margin of 22-10 and in the House by a margin of 61-30.
“Until today, Tennessee law has prevented right-to-carry permit holders from having the chance to defend themselves from criminal attack while in a restaurant,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. "It’s a shame that Governor Bredesen has so little faith in his fellow Tennesseans to behave responsibly, but this veto override proves that the majority of Tennessee legislators do trust permit holders. They understand this is a common-sense measure that must become law in their state, just as it is already law in 32 other states.”
Not one of the 32 states that allow permit holders to carry in establishments that serve alcohol has repealed this law. That’s because these laws have proven to be effective and permit holders have proven to be trustworthy. This type of legislation is crucial because crime can occur anywhere, including in restaurants. On April 2, 2009, a Tennessee man was gunned down at a sports bar in Nashville by a criminal stalking his wife. Although she was a right-to-carry permit holder, she was forced to helplessly watch this tragedy unfold, because Tennessee law required her to leave her gun locked in the car outside.
A bill similar to SB 3012 passed the Tennessee House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in May 2009, only to be vetoed by Gov. Bredesen. Despite a successful veto override by Tennessee’s state legislature, the enacted law was ruled unconstitutionally vague because of a perceived ambiguity over the state’s definition of restaurants. SB 3012, filed in response to that court ruling last November, fixed any possible ambiguity.
“We would like to thank State Sen. Doug Jackson (D-25), State Rep. Curry Todd (R-95) and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey for their leadership and commitment to this effort” concluded Cox.
This law will go into effect upon being assigned a public chapter number by the Tennessee Secretary of State.