Monday, January 23, 2006

No bullseye on this one

Gun advocates and libertarians are usually fellow travelers. So it was surprising to learn that the Tennessee Firearms Association, a group devoted to removing legal fetters, is trying to ramrod a new law through the statehouse. Even more surprising is the aim of the initiative, its source notwithstanding. The measure would permit someone packing a pistol to plop down on the barstool of a Chili’s or an Outback and swap opinions on sports, politics or other barroom flashpoints with any hard-drinking folks to the left or right

It’s a recipe for disaster, as the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association has professed. Yet the TFA asserts that its measure would spare Tennesseans from the horrifying situation of being arrested for an innocent error. The law allows gun bearers with a valid permit to tote their Glocks into a restaurant. But they’re banned by law from having a gun in their possession if the place serves liquor. And, the group stresses, how are you going to know whether or not an establishment serves liquior until you're inside it?

Oh, yeah, you’d have to be a regular Carnak to make that call beforehand. Yet that’s the strongest argument the proposal’s advocates have mustered.

Nonetheless, a similar measure was approved last year by the Tennessee Senate in a 29-3 vote, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press . The same story quotes a TFA official as saying the group has lined up 60 co-sponsors of this year’s measure in the House. In short, it apparently has a lot of support.

I hope they’ve miscounted. Advocates point out that the law would prevent gun bearers from drinking in such an establishment. So what's the danger?

Well, that's not exactly a foolproof safeguard; think of how many brawls you've witnessed, as patron or proprietor, when only one person was snockered. But that’s not enough of a safeguard. Alcohol and guns just don’t mix, as the industry learns every Friday and Saturday night. Tempers are often the flashpoint, not how many bourbons someone has downed.

If safety's really the goal of the pro-arms contingent, they should drop their support of this one.

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