Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tennessee restaurant owner sues to stop restaurant carry law

From the Volunteer State:
A restaurateur and others who serve alcohol asked the Tennessee Attorney General to join them in opposing a proposed law that will expressly allow loaded guns in bars. The Legislature overrode Gov. Phil Bredesen's veto and the law is slated to take effect on July 14.

It will make Tennessee the first state to expressly allow people to carry a loaded, concealed gun into a bar, according to the complaint in Davidson County Court.

Randy Rayburn, a restaurant owner, claims that with more than 220,000 gun permit-holders in Tennessee, the "guns in bar law" will create a public nuisance, threaten the health, safety and welfare of the public and endanger the lives of bar and restaurant employees.

The plaintiffs claim the bill was passed through trickery, as proponents called it the "restaurant carry" law or "restaurant bill," all the while knowing that Tennessee liquor laws do not differentiate between bars and restaurants.

Even if a restaurant or bar posts a "no firearms" sign, under the new law, violators will allegedly face no more than $500 in fines for ignoring it.

Supporters of the law claim that 38 states have similar laws that allow permit holders to bring their weapons into businesses that serve alcohol, but the petitioners say that's not true.

The plaintiffs say 14 of those states prohibit loaded guns in bars and the other 24 states do not have laws that expressly permit or prohibit guns in bars. ...

Article here. As far as I can tell, the gist of the plaintiffs' argument appears to be that they disagree with the law. It's hard to discern what their legal argument is, and given that the legislature overrode a veto to get the law enacted, there is obviously wide political support among lawmakers for the bill. Arguing that lawmakers were "deceived" as to the status of bars vs. restaurants under the state law (that the legislature itself wrote) governing such establishments is unlikely to elicit much judicial interest in overturning a law with such wide political support, absent some clear constitutional infirmity.

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